After Apple Picking (Pearls from the Deep)
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.
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.
A1. What is the loss the narrator notes when he finishes apple picking?
When he finishes apple picking, the narrator notes that there is still a barrel left unfilled. He also thinks that there may be two or three apples upon some bough that he hasn’t picked. Both losses indicate the sense of incompleteness in the mind of the narrator.
A2. Why does he feel that he is done with apple picking?
The narrator feels that he is done with apple picking because it is almost night. It is the winter season and hence the poet feels sleepy. Also, the scent of apples makes the poet drowsy.
A3. What does the poet see in his dream?
In his dream the poet sees magnified apples appearing and disappearing. Each apple parades/shows its stem end and blossom end. The poet also sees spots on the apples and the reddish brown colour.
A4. What do the narrator’s feet do while he is standing on the ladder?
While the narrator is standing on the ladder, the instep arch of his feet keeps him balanced on the swaying ladder. The feet balances him by maintaining the pressure of the ladder-round.
A5. Why does the poet feel that he has had too much of apple picking?
The poet feels that he has had too much of apple picking because it is already night and he is feeling sleepy. From the sound coming from the cellar bin he realises that it is a big harvest. Hence he feels overtired and fed-up.
A6. What happens to the apples picked from the tree and the ones which strike the earth?
The apples harvested safely from the tree go to the cellar bin. The ones that strike the earth, whether bruised or not, go to the apple heap as of no worth; they are crushed into fruit juice there.
A7. How can the woodchuck help the poet?
The woodchuck can help the poet by clarifying to him whether his sleep is like the animal’s hibernation (long sleep) or just some human sleep. (Here hibernation potentially stands for something deeper, like death or afterlife.) Because the woodchuck is an animal that hibernates during the winter season, the poet thinks that it will know better.