What have the poems "Birches," "After Apple Picking," and "The Tuft of Flowers" by Robert Frost have  in common?

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dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The three poems "Birches," "After Apple Picking," and "Tuft of Flowers" by Robert Frost all have the same setting. Each poem is set in the New England countryside which Frost so loved, and in each, the setting plays a large part in the message of the poem. By focusing on an aspect of the natural world, Frost illustrates a larger truth relevant to his life. In "Birches," he brings back memories of climbing on birches as a young boy and riding them up to the sky, and uses this image as a metaphor for the human need to escape temporarily from the cares of the world now and again, and in "After Apple Picking" he talks about the process of collecting apples to communicate the wider concept of acquisitiveness, which in the end is ultimately "of no worth" and is exhausting to the spirit. In "Tuft of Flowers, he interprets flowers spared by the scythe of the farmer who has cleared the field before him as testimony to the unifying aspect of work.

All three poems are filled with vivid imagery. "Birches" is centered around the crackling image of the tall, majestic trees "loaded with ice a sunny winter morning after a rain," and a lonesome young boy swinging on them, riding them to the sky and back down again. In "After Apple Picking," Frost describes "magnified apples...stem end and blossom end...every fleck of russet showing clear," as well as the "instep arch" of his foot, which "aches" as it "keeps the pressure of a ladder-round." Finally, pastoral images abound in "Tuft of Flowers," as a "'wildered butterfly...on noiseless wing" goes "round and round," pointing the narrator to "a message from the dawn" in "a leaping tongue of bloom" which has been spared by his predecessor's scythe.

lit24 | Student

Robert Frost and his family moved to England in 1912 because he felt that his poetic talent was not being recognized in America. His first collection of poems "A Boy's Will" was published  in 1913 in England, it was quickly followed by "North of Boston" in 1914. In 1915 he returned to America after the American public and critics had taken notice of his poetic genius.

All the three poems - "After Apple Picking," "Birches" and "Tuft of Flowers" belong to this early period. The most important factor which is common to these three poems is a sense of nostalgia. Frost feels keenly the loss of the American countryside. In "The Tuft of Flowers" the lines

And dreaming, as it were, held brotherly speech
With one whose thought I had not hoped to reach.

foreground his separation from the American, more specifically the New England countryside.

Secondly, the three poems are characterized by uncertainty about the poet's future. This uncertainty is foregrounded in the following lines from "Apple Picking":

And there’s a barrel that I didn’t fill
Beside it, and there may be two or three
Apples I didn’t pick upon some bough

which express Frost's regret in not exploiting his poetic potential to the maximum because he is not certain about the public reception of his poems.

Thirdly, all three poems follow different rhythmic patterns and rhyme schemes, clearly indicating that Frost was experimenting and innovating and trying to find his feet in the world of poetry.