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Sleep and Dreams

Symbol Analysis

Is the speaker already asleep at the beginning of the poem? How does he know what he's going to dream if he hasn't started dreaming yet? What time is it? Dreams are fuzzy creatures, and the poem captures the vague and disorderly progress of the speaker's thoughts from one subject to another. Images of falling and dropping things are especially notable. The most direct explanation for these images is that the speaker has been worried about not dropping apples all day.

  • Line 9: The speaker's strange view of the world, even since that morning, is compared metaphorically to sleep or to some other physical object that is caught in his eye. But he cannot "rub" out the strangeness in the way that you can rub out sleep in the morning.
  • Line 10: The sheet of ice that froze over the water is described metaphorically as a "pane of glass," because the speaker can look through it. Also, a "glass" is an old-fashioned word for "mirror."
  • Line 15: The speaker confuses the time of the memory with the real time of his falling asleep. At the point in the memory at which the ice falls, he was already starting to drift to sleep.
  • Line 37: The word "trouble" is very ambiguous here. It has connotations of bad and disturbing dreams, even though we don't know what's so scary about some falling apples.
  • Lines 40-41: Frost personifies the woodchuck as if it were a person who could read the poem and say, "Yup, sounds like you're headed for hibernation, my friend!" or, "Nope, you're still just a human being. Sorry!"

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