by Robert Frost
After Apple-Picking Theme of Versions of Reality
You might call "After Apple-Picking" a realist poem, in the same way that you would talk about a realist short story or novel. The poem depicts real-life activities in naturalistic detail, without any direct reference to fantasy or the supernatural. And yet…the setting shifts back and forth from place to place without warning, as in a dream. And Frost touches on religious and supernatural subjects in subtle ways, using apples and ladders and falling things. From reading this poem, you do not know from what perspective it is being narrated. Maybe the whole thing is a dream. Maybe none of it is. What's your interpretation?
Questions About Versions of Reality
- At what point, if any, does the speaker slip from waking consciousness into dreaming?
- What are the characteristics of the "strangeness" that the speaker "cannot rub" from his sight (line 9)? If you could paint the world as he sees it then, what would it look like?
- What exactly will "trouble" the speaker's dreams, and why is it troubling? Is the answer obvious?
- What is going on in lines 13-15, when the sheet of ice seems both to fall and not to fall?
Chew on This
Frost shields the reader from knowing the personal and idiosyncratic reasons that the speaker's dreams will be troubled, despite the speaker's desire to share these troubles.
The speaker is already half-asleep from the very beginning of the poem. He is never in a full state of consciousness.