Monday, August 23, 2010

Tuesday Poem: "After Apple Picking" by Robert Frost

Perhaps my favorite part in being involved in the Tuesday Poem blog is how each poem from week to week in some way is an echo of the previous week, sometimes easy to see why -- as in today's choice -- other times a barely discernible echo heard only in my own head. Nonetheless, it's a little like skipping from stone to stone over a stream, pausing every week mid-stream to ponder the water rushing by, or to peer more deeply to what lies beneath.

First, a photo from my friend Karen E. of the apples from her father's tree, which I wrote about last week:

...which led me to this poem, which I've always loved:

After Apple Picking

My long two-pointed ladder's sticking through a tree
Toward heaven still.
And there's a barrel that I didn't fill
Beside it, and there may be two or three
Apples I didn't pick upon some bough.
But I am done with apple-picking now.
Essence of winter sleep is on the night,
The scent of apples; I am drowsing off.
I cannot shake the shimmer from my sight
I got from looking through a pane of glass
I skimmed this morning from the water-trough,
And held against the world of hoary grass.
It melted, and I let it fall and break.
But I was well
Upon my way to sleep before it fell,
And I could tell
What form my dreaming was about to take.
Magnified apples appear and reappear,
Stem end and blossom end,
And every fleck of russet showing clear.
My instep arch not only keeps the ache,
It keeps the pressure of a ladder-round.
And I keep hearing from the cellar-bin
That rumbling sound
Of load on load of apples coming in.
For I have had too much
Of apple-picking; I am overtired
Of the great harvest I myself desired.
There were ten thousand thousand fruit to touch,
Cherish in hand, lift down, and not let fall,
For all
That struck the earth,
No matter if not bruised, or spiked with stubble,
Went surely to the cider-apple heap
As of no worth.
One can see what will trouble
This sleep of mine, whatever sleep it is.
Were he not gone,
The woodchuck could say whether it's like his
Long sleep, as I describe its coming on,
Or just some human sleep.


I burst into tears this morning listening to Robert Frost read it --
the video pacing is a bit odd -- RF's face seems to nearly melt at times -- you might want to close your eyes and listen. It's worth it:


  1. Oh... lost for words. The combination of reading the poem and then hearing it, the way the words are amplified, made whole by his voice.... Thank you T Clear so much.

  2. Mary, yes. I was lost for words thinking about this poem all day, and now I say that if when I die I dream the dream of apples unto eternity, whatever afterlife we are afforded shall be entirely a place of delight.

  3. Very cool. Loved the apple poem last week too, so impressed you schose this one to compliment it.
    BTW the video was done with "crazy talk" or something similar which is why it looks so odd.

  4. what a magnificent feels like stream of consciousness writing, but probably he crafted it carefully and slowly. In any case...breathtaking.