Skip to main content

Oklahoma Agriculture in the Classroom

Songs and Poems

After Apple-Picking

by Robert Frost

My long two-pointed ladder's sticking through a tree
Toward heaven still,
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.
But I am done with apple picking now.
Essence of winter sleep is on the night,
The scent of apples: I am drowsing off.
I cannot rub the strangeness from my sight
I got from looking through a pane of glass
I skimmed this morning from the drinking trough
And held against the world of hoary grass.
It melted, and I let it fall and break.
But I was well
Upon my way to sleep before it fell,
And I could tell what form my dreaming was about to take.
Magnified apples appear and disappear,
Stem end and blossem end,
And every fleck of russet showing clear.
My instep arch not only keeps the ache,
It keeps the pressure of ladder-round.
I feel the ladder sway as the boughs bend.
And I keep hearing from the cellar bin
The rumbling sound
Of load on load of apples coming in.
For I have had too much
Of apple-picking: I am overtired
Of the great harvest I myself desired.
There were ten thousand thousand fruit to touch,
Cherish in hand, lift down and not let fall.
For all
That struck the earth,
No matter if not bruised or spiked with stubble,
Went surely to the cider-apple heap
As of no worth.
One can see what will trouble
This sleep of mine, wheatever sleep it is.
Were he not gone,
The woodchuck could say whether it's like his
Long sleep, as I describe its coming on,
Or just some human sleep.

Discussion Questions and Activities
  1. Circle the words that rhyme. What is the rhyme pattern?
  2. Why is the ladder still sticking through the tree and the barrel unfilled?
  3. What was the "pane of glass" skimmed from the drinking trough.
  4. What does he mean when he says he was on his way to sleep before the glass fell?
  5. What does the poet dream about?
  6. Why does his instep arch ache?
  7. Which apples went to the "cider-apple heap?" What is the cider-apple heap?
  8. What is the significance of the woodchuck?
  9. Draw a picture of something described in this poem.