The structure of this poem weaves in and out for example line 1 is very long “my long two-pointed ladder’s sticking through a tree” (1) contrasted to line 32 which is very short “for all” (32), it feels like the speaker is drifting in and out of sleep. There are twenty end rhymes throughout the poem, with the repetition of sleep occurring often. The season of apple picking is coming to an end and the speaker has been hard at work all day, so the speaker is exhausted and he becomes dreamy. However, because of the length of the lines the reader is kept alerted and doesn’t experience the sleepiness.
The speaker is growing old and is unable to harvest like he used to “ladder’s sticking through a tree / toward heaven still” (1-2), as he is unable to fill all the barrels, leaving “apples I didn’t pick upon some bough” (5). The speaker could be using this as a metaphor that he hasn’t achieved all he would have like to in life, similar to ‘The Road Not Taken’ he still has many ambitions and hopes to fulfil.
The speaker suggests the world is different and has changed looking back, “I cannot rub the strangeness from sight / I got from looking through a pane of glass” (9-10) or perhaps the speaker has changed as a person, that he has matured and looks back on his foolishness. The speaker shows how life can be magnified by using apples, opportunities appear and disappear “magnified apples appear and disappear” (18). The speaker shows this as being an allusion drifting in and out of sleep. The speaker also looks at missed opportunities “there were ten thousand thousand fruit to touch / cherish in hand, lift down and not let fall” (30-31). Wishing, like he now does with apples, to grasp them and not let go, the speaker shows sadness that the opportunities were not cherished more. Letting them go they become worthless.
In the last six lines “sleep” appears four times, emphasising the “long sleep” (41), although the “woodchuck” (40) is getting ready to hibernate, maybe the speaker is getting ready to fall into the eternal sleep like he hopes to. However the poet does not know the actual nature of his sleep whether his sleep will be the long sleep of the woodchuck or one night long human sleep. Referring back to “heaven” the apple could signify the Bible story of Adam and Eve, before the apple was introduced they were in paradise in a state of bliss, but when the apple was introduced it tempted them and they were happy no more. The speaker could be feeling like Adam and Eve, longing for “heaven”, repenting. In ‘After Apple-Picking’ Frost is working with and relying on nature, “Cherish” (31) is significant in the way Frost has to look after and be careful of each and every apple, or else it becomes of less worth. For many farmers if nature doesn’t provide then man simply cannot survive.
In conclusion, I feel Frost is expressing through his poems, which man must maintain and not take for granted, nature. Nature determines the quality and way of life we lead, Frost obviously has built up a great relationship with nature and through his poems he is telling us the reader, how vital it is to build a relationship with nature. In each of the three poems I have analysed, Robert Frost shows how nature affected his life. Nature leads the way, for example in ‘The Road Not Taken’ if there had been no “undergrowth” and the road that he eventually took was “grassy and wanted wear,” (8) Frost may have taken the other road. And going down this road he may have had a different future, but as the “sigh” suggests we just won’t know.