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“A poem begins in delight and ends in wisdom,”- Robert Frost. This one simple quote highlights the foundation of Frost’s poems. It hits the target. Each of Frost’s poems indeed begin with “delight”, a man picking apples, a man riding his horse or a man walking down a road. However, Frost is able to find the extraordinary in the most conventional situations, leaving the audience pondering and contemplating life’s journeys. Frost explores the ‘extraordinary’ through the themes of mystery and human limitation.
At the end of our lives, we will feel dissatisfaction and regret.
After reading After Apple Picking, we may agree with this statement. However, Frost’s ambiguous tone only hints at this morbid outcome, never truly confirming our suspicions. The persona himself is left wondering, “whatever sleep it is. ” Is it a “long sleep”, “or just some human sleep. ” He wonders if he is just hibernating, like the woodchuck, but in the end, weariness overcomes suspicion and the audience is left wondering.
Through use of seasonal imagery, the persona foreshadows his death, with reference to winter being made throughout the poem.
The persona also states that when he saw his reflection in the “drinking trough” the reflection was “hoary” or grey with age. Seasonal imagery is also used to create mystery in Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening. Extreme use of symbolism turns it into a very dangerous setting; “the darkest evening of the year. ” “The woods are lovely, dark and deep” and become enticing, a seductive tool to lure the persona away from the formal, systematised town.
On the other hand, they may be a beautiful siren, nature serving as break from structured living.
But his ambiguous tone and isolated setting forms the suspicion that the persona is considering suicide. However, the two lines of the poem “and miles to go before I sleep,” shows that the persona still has his life ahead of him. Again, the outcome of the poem is indefinite. Frost criticises human limitation in After Apple Picking. The persona uses apples as a symbol for life’s incessant duties, signifying the feeling of incompleteness; “there’s a barrel that I didn’t fill”. “There were ten thousand thousand fruit to touch”, “of load on load of apples coming in”.
The poet uses repetition to emphasise the endless opportunities which he “let fall”. Frost takes a simple task of apple-picking and makes the audience reflect on life’s decisions. The tone of the poem is unsatisfied and remorseful and Frost’s ‘extraordinary’ nature of the poem suggests that the feeling may be unavoidable and life is “of no worth”. This universal idea has made Frost’s poem timeless, similar to the aphorisms explored in Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening. The horse’s confusion shows the abnormality of the persona’s sudden halt to view nature.
He gives his harness bells a shake; to ask is there is some mistake. ” The isolated settings in both poems use nature as a sphere of contemplation, something that is lacking in our own lives. Frost finds the extraordinary in the ordinary, and conveys this through his use of an ambiguous tone and his unique ideas about human limitation. His ideas remain relevant today and reading one of his poems forces the audience to reflect on life’s journey. As Frost said, “A poem begins in delight and ends in wisdom,”
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