"After Apple Picking" by Robert Frost Critical Summary analysis and Appreciation
Even before we think of either a summary or critical appreciation and analysis of "After Apple Picking", we must remember that Robert Frost is a landscape poet. His poetry is always enriched with the depiction of agrarian and natural scenes. In "After Apple Picking", he presents a simple theme that how peacefully an overtired villager is lulled to sleep by "the essence of winter sleep", Nature. An apple picker has a plentiful crop. He is picking apples while standing on a two pointed ladder. The winter evening falls soon. The apple picker is fed up with apple picking now. The cold winter breeze is filled with the scent of apples.
It is a perfect setting to induce sleep and he is "drowsing off" under the powerful effect of Nature. He wants to pick apples and tries to "rub the strangeness away". Soon, he is on his way to sleep. In this process "magnified apples appear and disappear". The poet leaves the end of the poem open. He does not confirm of whether it would be human sleep or like woodchuck a long sleep.
Though Robert Frost insists that the poem is written purely in context of a rural aspect and it shows nothing more than the beauty of nature prevailing upon human mind, intellect and will, yet the poem does allude to certain extended meanings. Since the poet has left the ending of the poem open; therefore, the sleep of the peasant could either be related to death or to intoxication since the apple picker is "drowsing" under appeasing influence of mighty nature.
The "magnified apples" may also be referred to as human desires which may never be satiated to their fill. Sometimes, one may even have achieved lifelong goals and targets have been met but life does not stay longer to support one to relish the fruits of one's labours. Hence, the magnified apples may refer to unfulfilled desires. However, if we wish to move a step further, it could also imply the lust of man which can never be satisfied.
Use of Symbols in the poem "After Apple Picking":
Critics have identified several symbols like "magnified apples" and "sleep" that do reflect the inner condition of the apple picker. Here "magnified apples" are resembled to dreams of an ordinary person moving towards sleep after the day's tiredness and fatigue of apple picking. The "two pointed ladder" is also considered as life and human career which is similarly difficult to balance. It shows life is uncertain. Life is rather too short because even before we have picked the fruits of our labour, the darkness of death overshadows human life. The yearnings of man remain unfulfilled. It is also hinted at how difficult it is to maintain human life.
Thematic explanation and symbols in "After Apple Picking"