After Apple Picking As a Pastoral Poem
The poem ‘After Apple Picking’ by Robert Frost is one the most celebrated and widely read poems of the Romantic Period. The poem was drawn from Frosts’ own life, his recurrent losses, everyday tasks, and his loneliness. After Apple Picking is the poem that links Frost heavily to the Romantic Tradition as he follows the traditional Romantic model, in which he displays a number of Romantic qualities, mainly a connection with the transcendent and spiritual, Individualism, Primitivism and Nature as a source of reflection and guidance.
A characteristic of Romanticism was the belief that emotions and relationships were not just important, but were the very currency of life (Individualism). After Apple Picking focused on ones deep feelings of suffering but also a sense of hope and transcendence. This is conveyed in the quote “Of Apple picking: I am overtired Of the great harvest I myself desired”. The dramatic monologue, diction and modality shows the struggles of the man. The persona has too many goals and is regretting his choices in life, showing feelings of regret and exhaustion. Individualism is a major aspect to Romantic poetry and is expressed through the example as it shows a single person and his expression of individual feelings.
Romantic literature tends to have a theme of favouring the pastoral over the urban way of living. After Apple Picking is set in a rural background of a farm which is a critical aspect in determining that Frost is a poet of the Romantic Tradition. The symbolism of the ‘great harvest’ as the goals and dreams of the man links it back to the Primitivism and the experiences of the common man. The other example of “Empty Barrels” symbolise Frosts regrets at having not fulfilled all of his lives dreams and ambitions. This primitive state is a common occurrence in many Romantic period poems and the emphasis on rural life adds to the proof that After Apple Picking and Frost are part of the Romantic Tradition.
In After Apple Picking nature is used greatly to create a deeper value and more meaningful answers to life. This is nature acting as source of reflection and guidance. His emphasis on emotion rather than logic clarifies that the poem is indeed Romantic. The fist person narrative and reference to nature; “woodchucks”, “apples”, “boughs” help create a reflective tone in the poem. Frost capitalises on the reflective tone and attempts to use nature as a source of value and meaning within his life.
Romantic poems also had a connection with the transcendent and links to the spiritual. Frost makes certain biblical allusions to Jacob’s ladder and heaven shown in the quote “My long two-pointed ladder’s sticking through a tree Toward heaven still”. This is used to emphasise the need to connect with the transcendent and the divine. Frost connects with the divine while creating a positive connotation to nature through the apples, which are a gift from God.
Their has been a constant battle as to whether Robert Frost is indeed a Romantic poet. This poem conforms that Robert Frost is a Romantic poet as the many characteristics of the Romantic Tradition have greatly been expressed in his work and especially in After Apple Picking as shown in the many examples. The poem includes many of these characteristics and ultimately “it depicted emotional matter, in an imaginative form”.