Study Guide

After Apple-Picking Setting

By Robert Frost

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Nighttime. A man lies snugly in bed. As for the geographic setting, we are, of course, North of Boston: the title of the collection in which "After Apple-Picking" appears.

The speaker's thoughts are flooded with sunlight, and apples, apples, APPLES! There are apples flying across his vision. Apples are to this poem what images of scantily clad women are to the opening credits of a James Bond film. We see from every angle, up close and at a distance.

The poem jumps from moment to moment. Now it is morning and frost hangs on the grass, now it is the late afternoon and the last empty barrel stands next to a ladder. Also, the sound of "rumbling apples" for that cider mill. The farm is busy with industry.

There are some scattered images of falling items. First an ice sheet falls, but our vision cuts away before it can break, as if this would somehow be traumatic. Then, in slow motion, a falling apple: Nooooooooo! (Image of a man desperately leaping with outstretched hand to catch it.) Too late: throw that one in the reject pile.

After all of this mental wandering, we're back to the speaker, who finally falls asleep. He was hoping that the woodchuck would come by to diagnose his sleep, but no such luck. In our mental vision of the poem, the scene ends with the woodchuck suddenly appearing after he has fallen asleep, to do a little dance like the gopher from Caddyshack. But, uh, that probably didn't really happen.

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