by Robert Frost
The Bible is never explicitly mentioned in this poem, but Frost nonetheless includes several references to well-known stories from the Book of Genesis. These are not specific allusions so much as commonplace ideas that help structure the poem. The story of Jacob's Ladder and the Fall of Adam and Eve both seem to be on the speaker's mind. But be careful about interpreting what these references might "mean." There is surely no one right answer about their role in the poem.
- Lines 1-2: The image of a ladder pointing toward heaven alludes to the story of Jacob's Ladder in the Book of Genesis. When Jacob was escaping from his jealous brother Esau, he dreamed of a ladder going up to heaven that had angels climbing it. God was at the top of the ladder, and He told Jacob that Jacob and his descendants would be blessed.
- Line 13: The speaker is thinking about items falling because he has been trying not to drop apples all day. But the combination of falling and fruit seems to allude to the Biblical Fall, in which Adam and Eve tasted the forbidden fruit and were therefore expelled from the Garden of Eden.
- Lines 21-22: At this point, we know that he is beginning to dream, which makes the connection to the story of Jacob's Ladder even more clear.
- Lines 31-36: The apples that fell and hit the earth are symbols of sin and earthly corruption. They are treated "as of no worth," similar to how Adam and Eve were treated after they metaphorically "fell to earth" by tasting the forbidden fruit. It is important to note that Frost has sympathy for these corrupted apples, as if they represented all of humanity.