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Comparing Robert Frost'S "After Apple-Picking" To "Apples" By Laurie Lee

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Comparing Robert Frost's "After Apple-picking" to "Apples" by Laurie Lee

Poetry is an attempt to describe the nature and intensity of one's feelings

and opinions. Often, however, these thoughts are too vague or complex to

articulate. How does a poet translate these abstract ideas into something

more tangible and workable? Simple, metaphorical objects and situations can

be used to represent more elusive concepts. These can be interpreted in

many different ways, however, and poets often use the same symbols to

produce varying effects. By comparing "After Apple-picking," by Robert

Frost and "Apples," by Laurie Lee one can see how the poets coincidentally

use similar subjects to discuss a broader, more meaningful issue. Both

Frost and Lee use the apples in their poems to illustrate the relationship

between man and nature, and to emphasize the importance of allowing natural

processes to occur without interference. In addition to the use of

simplified symbols, the tone of each poem and the styles in which they are

written also reflect the poets' views on the topic.

Frost and Lee both discuss mankind's interaction with the environment,

using the apple to represent nature as a whole. Each poet achieves this

differently. Frost focuses on the negative effects that occur when man

disturbs nature and attempts to control it for his own gain. His poem

speaks of the winter, and of an apple-picker, with his 'ladder sticking

through a tree.' The narrator faces with the consequences of his actions,

and realizes the severity of his mistake. 'I cannot rub the strangeness

from my sight I got from looking through a pane of glass I skimmed from the

drinking trough.' Frost demonstrates how quickly and harshly the cold seems

to come on after the apples are unnaturally stripped away. This reflects

the way the Earth is ruined by mankind stripping away its resources and not

allowing it to replenish itself. Conversely, Lee illustrates the rewards

received when man allows nature to proceed at its own pace. The winter in

Lee's poem comes on more slowly and naturally. Starting in the summer, when

the apples 'drop like sweat from every branch,' man and nature begin to

ease into winter at a comfortable speed. This illustrates how, when allowed

to proceed at its natural pace, the Earth will replace what man takes from

it, thus creating an equilibrium that maintains natural resources while

enabling all creatures to benefit from them. In "After Apple-picking," the

apples are removed before any animals are able to use them. This upsets the

harmony between man and nature, and creates imbalance. Winter then moves in

swiftly and painfully, much in the same manner that the damages done to the

environment are quickly becoming critical and in some cases irreversible.

Furthermore, all fallen apples are automatically discarded into the cider

pile. Here Frost realizes how detrimental an intolerant and disrepectful

attitude toward the Earth can be. This contrasts drastically with "Apples."

In Lee's poem the apples are well-used by various animals, and by the end

of autumn, they have served many important purposes. The narrator sees the

need to 'welcome the ripe, the sweet, the sour, the hollow and the whole.'

All the elements of nature have had their chance to interact. The narrator

sees that all parts of nature are necessary and therefore equally

beautiful. Using the apples in their poems to represent the whole of

nature, Frost and Lee illustrate the effects of mankind's interaction with


The tone of each of these poems reflects the message the poets are

attempting to convey. Frost's poem has a tone of empty resignation. The

narrator muses, 'There may be two or three apples I didn't pick upon some

bough. But I am done with apple-picking now.' He is weary and feels the

weight of his actions upon him. It is as if he is surrendering to a

powerful adversary. His sense of defeat is exacerbated by the knowledge

that he has no one to blame for the situation but himself. This reflects

mankind's realization that Earth's resources have been depleted

substantially and that it will be much more difficult to repair the panet

than it would have been to maintain it. Lee's poem, however, has a warm,

comfortable feel to it. The world is described as 'juice-green.' This

creates a sense of vitality. Life seems to be flowing freely and nature is

existing harmoniously.



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