After Apple Picking Theme

What is the theme of the poem "After Apple Picking"?

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brandih eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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lit24 | Student

In this very symbolic poem, Frost contemplates his life's achievements and his hard work by using the metaphor of a hard day's work of picking apples and a dreamy sleep afterwards:

"For I have had too much
Of apple-picking; I am overtired
Of the great harvest I myself desired."

The poem is densely metaphorical. Frost's life was full of achievement which is symbolized by the hard work of apple picking. He also had a hard life in which many tragedies occurred. In the poem I believe the speaker represents Robert Frost who is contemplating his life and what it will be like when he dies. Some of the major symbols are the barrels representing his fulfilled and unfulfilled ambitions:

"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."

The season of winter and sleep both represent the later stages in one's life and death. The most important symbol is, ofcourse,  the apple. I believe that it represents the activities and opportunities in life. The speaker says with regret that he left some apples, meaning that many opportunities in his life have been passed up, but he also dreams of the many apples he did pick:

"And I keep hearing from the cellar-bin
That rumbling sound
Of load on load of apples coming in".

This represents the many achievements and good times that he was fortunate enough to enjoy.

This classic poem I believe is a grim contemplation on the events of his life and his regrets and guilt he feels for the way he lived. Overall this poem is laced with many metaphors and its  symbolism echoes the influences of rural life and nature in Frost's life  ultimately making it a great poem.