Advancing in Poetry Advancing in Poetry    

Lesson 5: After Apple-Picking

by Robert Frost

Performer: Librivox - Winston Tharp

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.

    Advancing in Poetry Advancing in Poetry    

Lesson 5: After Apple-Picking

by Robert Frost

Performer: Librivox - Winston Tharp


Study the poem for one week.

Over the week:

  • Read or listen to the poem.
  • Review the synopsis.
  • Read about the poet.
  • Complete the enrichment activities.


In Robert Frost's 'After Apple-Picking,' a laborer is exhausted after a long season of picking apples. There are still apples waiting to be picked off trees and an empty barrel, but the laborer is too tired to care. The image of apples, the feeling of standing on a swaying ladder, and the rumbling sound of tumbling apples haunts the laborer's mind while drifting off to sleep. The woodchuck has disappeared into its winter burrow, so the laborer cannot ask whether his sleep will be a groundhog-like hibernation or a regular human slumber.


  1. Robert Frost was born in 1874 in San Francisco, California. Study his portrait.
  2. Frost moved to Massachusetts at age 11 when his father died of tuberculosis.
  3. Zoom in and find Frost's state of birth, California (CA), on the map of the United States. Trace his path when he moved to Massachusetts (MA).
  4. Frost's time spent in New England inspired his poetry.
  5. Frost worked many jobs including as a factory worker, a farmer, a school teacher, and a college professor, but thought his true calling was that of a poet.
  6. Frost married and had six children, although many of the children died young and only two outlived their father.
  7. Frost died of a heart attack in Boston, Massachusetts at the age of 88.


Activity 1: Recite Poem Information

Recite the title of the poem and the name of the poet.

Activity 2: Study the Poem Picture

Study the poem picture and describe how it relates to the poem.

Activity 3: Recite the Poem

Practice reciting the poem aloud.

Activity 4: Complete Book Activities   

  • Click the crayon above, and complete pages 26-32 of 'Elementary Poetry 4: Advancing in Poetry.'


  1. 'Robert Frost.' Wikipedia. n.p.