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Subject: After Apple-Picking

Here are a few thoughts I had when reading this poem - ideas to kick around.

There are certainly parallels to Mowing here. As you've already mentioned, 1 Finger Willy, there's especially the farm-life setting and the emphasis on hard work. Here though, there seems to be a lot less satisfaction in a job well done. The emphasis is more on the incompletion of the task, a barrel I didn't fill, two or three apples I didn't pick upon some bough and the arduousness of it, the lingering ache, the nightmarish quality of the magnified apples appearing and disappearing.

The death imagery is stronger here, toward heaven still, essence of winter sleep, looking through a pane of glass, (through a glass darkly but then face to face?), the lack of certainty about the real nature of death, what form my dreaming was about to take.

He seems to evoke the weariness of someone at the end of a long work-filled life, overtired of the great harvest I myself desired and the small failures and short-comings that are inevitable, went surely to the cider-apple heap as of no worth.

I surmise that what will trouble this sleep of mine, whatever sleep it is are questions about the meaning of his life, the bottom line so to speak after years of hard work. As for the woodchuck, I would guess that he represents nature and the ultimate question is whether he is fundamentally the same as a human, or does death hold different prospects for animal and man. Of course the death of his son certainly had a lot of impact on Frost but I see no reason to connect the woodchuck with his son in this poem. Biographically it's a different story.

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