After Apple-Picking by Robert Frost – Summary Analysis Questions

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After Apple-Picking by Robert Frost has a thematic similarity with Lights Out by Edward Thomas. The poem presents the impact of sleep on a farm owner who is busy picking apples. Like every farmer, this farmer had the desire to have abundant produce of apples. Now that he has had it, and is busy picking apples, he is overcome by sleep. After Apple-Picking by Robert Frost is one of the finest poems on the subject of sleep. It has been a topic of literary discussion for its spontaneity and use of metaphor. The poem is one of the literary works prescribed by many institutes for students of English literature. This article, After Apple-Picking by Robert Frost – Summary Analysis Questions, will assist readers in comprehending this poem. It will also be beneficial from an examination point of view.

The Poet – Robert Frost

For a brief biography of the poet, visit A Silken Tent by Robert Frost – Summary and Critical Analysis on this website.

Text of the Poem After Apple-Picking by Robert Frost

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Summary of the Poem After Apple-Picking by Robert Frost


After Apple-Picking by Robert Frost is an interesting poem on the subject of sleep. Robert Frost’s poetry reflects his close affinity with American rural life. It also exhibits Frost’s keenness to share his experiences about his native lifestyle. Like many other of his poems, After Apple-Picking also has New England as its setting. The poet assumes the persona of an apple picker who has been busy picking apples when sleep comes. He skillfully delineates how sleep casts its influence on the apple picker who has been engrossed in a task he likes most.

The Apple Picker’s Feelings as He Concludes His Work.

The apple picker has just concluded his day’s work of apple-picking. He has not yet removed his ladder from its place. It still stands against the apple tree pointing towards heaven. There lies an empty barrel by this ladder. The apple picker, drowsy now, thinks that there might be some apples on a branch that he did not pick. But he thinks that he has had enough of apple-picking. Now, since the night is approaching, he feels like going to sleep. To him, the crux of sleep during winter is at night. But despite his drowsiness, he continues to feel the smell of apples that he has been picking.

The Apple Picker’s Helplessness Before Sleep

After apple-picking, the apple picker feels a bizarre haze that he cannot remove from his sight. He compares it with the look he had through a frozen water slab he skimmed from the trough this morning. This slab melted away and he let it fall to the ground. But before the water slab fell to the ground, he was again on his way to sleep. It shows the apple picker’s helplessness before sleep. Despite having a deep sleep all through the night, he expects sleep to come again any moment.

The Apple Picker’s Dreams

The apple picker knows well what his dreams are going to be. Since he has been picking apples the whole day, he expects to see magnified apples in his dreams. He looks forward to seeing apples from stem end to blossom end with reddish specks on them in his dreams.

The Apple Picker’s Feeling of Fatigue

The apple picker has spent the whole day standing on the ladder. Now, he feels the impact of his labour on his insteps. He still feels the sway of the ladder against the apple tree. This feeling of fatigue adds to his desire to go to sleep.

The Apple Picker’s Concern for Apples

Despite his fatigue and desire to go to sleep, the apple picker cannot help thinking about his apples. He has just had a massive harvest of apples as he had desired. Now, he does not want to let it go waste. In his drowsiness, he hears the reverberating sound of apples rolling in the cellar bin. He knows that there are thousands of apples to pick. But does not want any of them to fall to the ground and be bruised by any spike or stubble. If so happens, the apples go to the cider-apple heap which is a loss to the farm owner.

The Apple Picker’s Nervousness

The apple picker is nervous about whether he should go to sleep or not. His care for his apples is going to haunt him during his sleep. It is going to trouble him. He wonders if he can go to sleep like a woodchuck that continues to sleep for months at a stretch. It is an expression of the apple picker’s desire for a peaceful, long sleep.


After Apple-Picking by Robert Frost is a captivating poem. It holds the attention of the reader from the first line to the last. It presents a clash of desire and instinct. The apple picker desire to go on picking apples. But the arrival of sleep with a sense of fatigue stands between his desire and instinctive need.

Important Questions

Q1: After Apple-Picking by Robert Frost shows a conflict between desire and instinct. Elaborate.

Q2: What is the apple picker’s chief concern in the poem After Apple-Picking by Robert Frost?


Robert Frost is an illustrious literary figure of America. He celebrates the rural American lifestyle in his poems. That’s why the Americans hold him in high esteem and recognize him as a representative poet of rural America. After Apple-Picking is one such poem that describes a day in the life of an apple picker. At the same time, Frost comments on the dominance of sleep over man.

The Conflict between Desire and Instinct

In After Apple-Picking, Robert Frost presents a conflict between desire and instinct. The apple picker in the poem has had a huge production of apples. It is one aspect of his desire. Now, he wants to pick all his apples carefully without letting any of them go waste. He has spent a busy day on a ladder picking apples from trees. But sleep suddenly begins to dominate him. Despite his desire to go on picking apples, he cannot shake off the impact of sleep. He feels drowsy and is ready to go to sleep. He is well aware of the fact that he will have to submit to the power of sleep. It shows that instinct has an upper hand on all human desires. However much a man may try, he cannot compete with instincts.

The Apple Picker’s Chief Concern

Although the apple picker is under the strong influence of sleep, he cannot erase his chief concern from his mind. He keeps thinking about his apples. His concern for his apples reflects in his description of his expected dreams. He is aware that he is going to see gigantic apples in his dreams. At the same time, he is worried that he may not harm any of his apples in his drowsiness. This again shows a conflict between desire and instinct. But it also shows that despite all its dominance, instinct cannot stop man’s desire to desire.


After Apple-Picking by Robert Frost is an artistic masterpiece. Its imagery and diction make it appealing to the readers. The subjects of sleep and desire in poetry are not new. But it is Frost’s presentation that makes this poem unique.

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