Does the title of the poem "After Apple-Picking" refer to the completion of tasks of life?If not, what does it suggest?

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amarang9 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In "After Apple-Picking," the speaker is exhausted. The poem begins after he's completed his apple-picking. The bulk of the poem describes the speaker's state of mind as he's about to fall asleep after finishing his work. Although he's done with apple-picking, he still thinks about it. He anticipates his dream about picking apples because he can't get apple-picking out of his mind.

But I was well

Upon my way to sleep before it fell,

And I could tell

What form my dreaming was about to take. (14-17)

The speaker goes on to suppose that his dream will be about the sights, feelings, and sounds he experiences while apple-picking. His thoughts are mostly about the apples that he "let fall." As a metaphor or an allegory, those apples could represent missed opportunities in life. Although Frost wrote this at a relatively young age (39), it actually sounds like the thoughts of a pleased but somewhat regretful old man. In fact, this allegory is quite similar to the speaker in "The Road Not Taken" who remains uncertain if he'd made all the best choices in his life. Like the apple-picker, Frost was pleased with his life as a poet, but the poem might represent his own regrets and unfinished poems in his own life.

Like most of Frost's poems, he describes a normal activity which does not proclaim allegories or metaphors. They are more subtly suggested. The title suggests a moment after some activity in which the apple-picker, in this poem, contemplates his work in the context of the day and his life. The last few lines suggest that his cessation of this activity might be temporary, extended (hibernation), or final. This last suggestion could mean a retirement or death, considering the first two lines describe the ladder pointing to heaven. But these are all suggestions. It is for the reader to decide.

The title refers to the moment after completing a task. In this moment, the worker thinks about his/her work, what it means personally, temporarily, and maybe even what it means in the context of his/her entire life.