Robert Frost: After Apple-Picking

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After Apple-Picking Close Reading
Aleksandra Milewski: ID #200767099
19 February 2013
Dr Paul Maddern
ENGL 1260

Robert Frost’s “After Apple-Picking” is an introspective take on the thoughts we have before we slide into sleep. Dreams can be a fascinating insight into the mind, and this speaker, having kept so close track of them, has offered the reader a peek into his subconscious. In those fleeting moments between awake and asleep, the speaker finds meaning and depth throughout his day where he had previously not had the time to consider it. One of his earlier works, the poem is an excellent example of the clarity and simplicity of Frost’s language and delivery, as well as a refreshing contrast to the dominant poetic movements of the era. The very title of this poem expresses significance to the work as a whole. Upon reading the poem, had the reader not known the title, it could be easily assumed that the poem was set during apple-picking, not after. Not knowing this information could convolute one’s interpretation of the poem, imagining a very sleepy apple-picker during the day rather than the apple-picker drifting in and out of memory at the conclusion of his day. The sense of moving in and out of a dream-like state and consciousness is further exacerbated by a rhyme and metre that is, at a glance, unstructured. The poem is, in general, iambic, but one gets the sense that Frost made no conscious decisions to structure it one way or another. It simply follows the natural heartbeat of spoken English. In fact, the poem seems meant to be read out loud, as the rhymes are not necessarily controlled but they fall easily from the mouth. He is driven by the sound rather than the arrangement. Frost sometimes rhymes quickly, as in lines 14-16, where “well,” “fell,” and “tell” come in quick succession to one another. Later in the work, he takes longer to rhyme, separating “take” (l. 17) and “ache” (l. 21) and “end” (l. 19) and “bend” (l. 23) by three lines. The...
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