illustrated portrait of American poet Robert Frost

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What common elements are in "Birches," "After Apple Picking," and "The Tuft of Flowers" by Robert Frost?

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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.

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