Images of Apple Picking
After Apple Picking is fraught with imagery. Frost uses visual, olfactory, kinesthetic, tactile, and auditory imagery throughout this piece. Because the poem is filled with a variety of images, the reader is able to imagine the experience of apple picking.
Frost brings He begins with My long two-pointed ladders sticking through a tree (line 1). This line gives the reader a visual concept of a long pointed ladder nestled in an apple tree. And, allows the reader to expand that image to a multitude of apple pickers with their pointy ladders alongside him in neighboring trees. Frost continues with the visual images with following lines:
And theres a barrel that I didnt fill
Beside it, and there may be two or three
Apples I didnt pick upon some bough. (Lines 3-5)
Because of these lines, the reader envisions an apple picker on his ladder high up in the tree fling as many barrels as he can, but still not filling them all. In addition, to the visual images, Frost then moves on to olfactory imagery.
In one very simple line, The scent of apples: I am drowsing off line 8, Frost gives the reader an opportunity to smell apples. As he does not specify the type of apples being picked it is left to the readers imagination as to what type of apples he or smells.
From olfactory, the author moves on to tactile paired with visual imagery as seen in lines 11-13:
I got from looking through a pane of glass
I skimmed this morning from the drinking trough
And held against the world of hoary grass
It melted, and I let it fall and break.
Through these words, the reader can envision the man skimming a thin piece of ice (pane of glass) from the drinking trough. He looks through the ice at the frosted grass. The reader can also experience the feeling of cold on his hands from picking up and holding the piece of ice. And feel it break in his hands as it melts from the heat from his hands.
Frost quickly moves back to visual imagery found in lines 18-20 with phrases such as Magnified apples, Stem end Blossom end, and fleck of russet. Again, the vision of all types of apples, in not only color, but also the image is slightly distorted now while the apple picker dreams, magnified apples. It evokes a response from the reader of a multitude of large, floating apples coming into sight and then leaving as quickly as they appeared.
Kinesthetic imagery appears in the next few lines allowing the reader to feel what the author is describing as shown in lines 21-23:
My instep arch not only keeps the ache,
It keeps the pressure of a ladder-round.
I feel the ladder sway as the boughs bend.
Anyone who has ever felt any kind of foot pain is able to empathize with the apple pickers pain, his arch aches from the pressure of the boughs in the ladder. The image continues with the feeling of the ladder swaying in the breeze that increases the ache in ones foot from trying to hold on the precariously standing ladder. While the pain is there and one is trying to maintain position on the ladder, we are brought back to auditory images.
While trying to maintain position on the ladder with aching feet we are brought back to hearing the apples as shown in lines 24-26. One can hear the thumping of apples being dumped into the cellar bin. Add that sound to line 30, of ten thousand thousand fruit and one senses the vast amount of apples that are being dumped into the cellar bin and the sound is magnified.
Frost, at the end of this piece, gives the reader a slightly different image almost uncomfortable image:
One can see what will trouble
This sleep of mine, whatever sleep it is,
Were he not gone,
The woodchuck could say whether its like his
Long sleep, as I describe its coming on
Or just some human sleep (lines 37-42)
This stanza gives the reader reason to pause and contemplate what is the apple picker really saying here. We know that the harvest must be ending, as there was ice in the water trough.
However, he compares his sleep to that of a woodchuck who hibernates in winter. Is the apple picker simply going to sleep for the night, the season, or the rest of his life? That is left to the readers discretion I think. Although in reading this piece, one may infer that perhaps the apple picker is preparing to die and wonders if his sleep will be as peaceful and long as the woodchucks.
In this piece Frost, gives the readers multiple images which allows this piece to speak to the reader.