34 pages 1 hour read

Robert Frost

After Apple-Picking

Fiction | Poem | Adult | Published in 1914

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Opportunity and Choice

With its memorable opening depicting a “long two-pointed ladder sticking through a tree” (Line 1), Frost’s poem transports readers to an idyllic space. The ladder points “[t]oward heaven still” (Line 2), communicating to the reader that the speaker did not bother to remove the ladder from the tree before leaving the orchard. While the apples in the poem can be interpreted as symbols for sin, wisdom, or knowledge, they can further represent opportunities available, taken, and not taken. The apples may also symbolize choices available, made, and not made and the ever-unfolding consequences that decision-making harbors.

Every apple picked is an opportunity taken, and every apple not picked is an opportunity not taken. The ladder left unclimbed at the day’s end is like an available opportunity not revisited. Readers can interpret the remaining apples as opportunities available but not yet taken. Lines 25-26—”The rumbling sound / Of load on load of apples coming in”—represent the many daily opportunities and choices presenting themselves and requiring a decision to take them or let them pass. Lines 27-28 show the speaker’s exhaustion with having to continually make decisions and the wear and tear decision-making causes in life: “For I have had too much / Of apple picking: I am overtired.