After Apple-Picking by Robert Frost

Mmm, Autumn, Fall, however you say it.

I went apple tasting today. I like the names even more than the flavours somehow: Ashmead’s Kernel, Criterion, Elstar. Ginger Golden, Jonagold, Honeycrisp. Newtown Pippin and Northern Spy. Spartan, Spitzenberg. Buckeye Gala, Lady, Ambrosia.

My belly is full of tart and crisp, fresh and juicy. I also drank some cider and now I’m sleepy.

After Apple-Picking

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 blossom end,
And every fleck of russet showing clear.
My instep arch not only keeps the ache,
It keeps the pressure of a 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, whatever 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.

by Robert Frost.


7 thoughts on “After Apple-Picking by Robert Frost

  1. Dear Deborah, How wonderful to have an experience which illuminates a complex poem like Frost’s. But if you want to taste the best apple of all time (and I don’t know if you can, I haven’t heard of it anywhere for years now) try “Green Transparent.” It’s like—like nothing else. It doesn’t have the hardness and bite of a Granny Smith, and the skin has a slight yellowish transparent (what else) glow just under the green skin. I would I believe pay all my fruit money for several weeks just to locate one tote bag full.

  2. Green Transparent?! I love that name too!

    There were more than thirty varieties at the tasting today, not to mention a couple dozen kinds of pears. But no Green Transparent, I’m surprised. A quick search tells me that Oregon has Yellow Transparents in July. It’s all very exciting. I remember when my entire experience of apples was Granny Smith and Golden Delicious. How worldly I’ve become haha!

    My favourite today were the Ashmead’s Kernel. They had them to taste but not to buy, I was so sad. I bought caramel and goat’s cheese to ease the pain 🙂

    • Well I did a little research…. The laundry and the dishwasher can wait…

      Laxton’s Superb was names after its breeder Thomas Laxton.

      And, the Spitzenberg or Esopus Spitzenberg to give it its full name was named after a creek near where the first seedling was found. It was grown by Thomas Jefferson no less.

      Cox’s Orange Pippin has parented many new varieties:

      Downton Pippin (Cox’s Orange Pippin x Golden Pippin)
      Jupiter (Cox’s Orange Pippin x Starking Delicious)

      Ginger Golden was named after a racehorse… which then raised the question Who is responsible for naming the horses? At which point I stepped slowly away from the interwebs for fear I might never return… 🙂

  3. Two wonderful books with apple growers in all or part of the story. Both about amazingly intrepid women. One is “The Orchard: A Memoir” by Adele Crockett Robertson and the other is “The Curve of Time” by M. Wylie Blanchet.

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