Symbolic to categorise him as a nature poet

 

Symbolic
Analysis of Robert Frost’s After-Apple
Picking and Birches

 

 

                                                                                                                                             
Abstract: This term paper analysis symbols in
Robert Frost’s After-Apple Picking and
Birches.  The paper also analyses the connection
between nature and man in Frost’s poetry, not to categorise him as a nature
poet but to analyse the peculiarities of his symbols and their connection with
man.  Also the paper comparing both poems
in terms of themes.

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Robert Frost was born in California and
was identified with New England.  He
moved to New England after the death of his father, and helped his mother by
teaching in her own school.

 

 

had tried many fields like a teacher,
farmer and later as a visiting professor in many universities including
Harvard.  His fortune changed from 1912
onwards, the time when he moved to England with his family.  His first book, A Boy’s Will (1913), get published there “with a phrase borrowed
from Longfellow’s poem My Lost Youth”
(Thomas 97).  After the publication and
the wide reception of North of Boston both
in America and England, he went back to America.

 
The success he enjoyed for the rest of his life as a poet, however came
too late 

              to cancel the bitterness left by
his earlier struggles.  Moreover, he
endured                                        

               personal tragedy: a son
committed suicide and a daughter had a complete                

                           mental collapse.
(Norton P727)

              He was a poet of simplicity. Simple
themes, mostly related to life were presented in his poems. 

In
the context of Frost’s diction, the colloquial rhythms, the simplicity of
his                   images and above
all the folky speaker- these are intended to make the poems look natural,
unplanned.  In the context of the
modernist movement, however they can be seen as a thoughtful reply to high
modernism’s fondness for obscurity and difficulty. (Norton 727)

Elements
of regionalism was there in his poems. 
Regional writers of American literature tried to bring more realism, and
this was “resulted from the desire both to preserve a record of distinctive
ways of life and to come to terms with the new world that seemed to be
replacing these early and allegedly happier times” (Norton 12). There were some
“local colorists” dedicated to capturing its natural, social and linguistic
features” (Norton 13) 

                        Nature is “symbolic of
spirit” quoting Robert D. Richardson in ‘Analysis on Nature in Robert Frost’s
Poetry’, Frost says that “”I am not a nature poet,” he once declared “There is
almost always a person in my poems”” (26).  Human psyche in any natural elements becomes
the focal point, rather than a mere “background”.  It is also quoted that “some people called me
poet of nature setting but I am not a poet for nature, there is also something
else in my poems” (26).  “Confusion and
dilemma” are one of the common themes in his poems like in The Road Not Taken and in Mending  Wall. He sings “And Sorry I could not
travel both” in former and “Why do they make good neighbours” in latter.  Also; we can see an element of “delight and pleasure”
in his woods, trees, grass, apple etc.

Human Wisdom

            How many times it thundered before
Franklin.  How many apples fell on
Newton’s head before he took the hint. Nature is always hinting at us.  It hints over and over again.  And suddenly we take the hint (pdf 27)
looking nature and many natural phenomenon or any visual from a rustic life
like a boy swaying on birches a poet (man) get inspired.  It plays a didactic or moral purpose. As
quoting Robert Frost:

It
(a poem) begin in delight, it inclines to the impulse, it assumes direction
with the first line laid down, it runs a course of lucky events, and ends in a
clarification of life—-not necessarily a great clarification, such as sects
and cults are founded on, but in a momentary stay against confusion. (pdf 28)

Thus,
rather than merely sucking joy from nature Frost’s Poem ends in wisdom.  At the

 

 

 

 

inception
of his poems, there may be some appreciation of any natural events or may begin
with a nostalgic moment or village scenery. 
But whatever it is he will safely land on to some thoughts of wisdom. 

Symbolism

                   Symbolism
in literature is a technique using for an indirect way of saying.  Symbols symbolises certain things and conveys
the ideas to readers in an aesthetic manner. Pramod Nayar in his Contemporary Literary and Cultural  Theory  States about ‘symbolic codes’.  “It extends beyond the immediate icon or
stereotype to refer to something larger” (24).  
In Frost’s poem; woods, grasses, birches, apples etc. become symbols
which denotes human psyche, life, death, dilemmas and doubts.

Symbolism in After Apple- Picking

                        The poem is drowsing in
tone.  Poet brings the attention towards
a daily life activity which is common in any rural life of America; i.e.
“apple-picking”.  The poet is swaying
with the weight of “sleep”. Thus the “drowsy” tone implies the evening Time of
man.  He is “over-tired”.  Life may makes him so.  Maybe the death of man or poet’s awareness of
death which is very nearby, is repeated in poem with symbols of “winter”
also.  “Essence of winter sleep is on the
night.”(Line 7)  Besides, “Apple-Picking”
is maybe the symbol of life’s hards

 

 

 

 

hips
and its rewards as “apples” or fruit of that he sawed in his life.  There smells a self-satisfaction in the poet
or the narrator. The following lines maybe implies this:

                        “But I was well

                        Upon my way to sleep
before it fall” (Line 14-15)

But
the dilemma and doubt comes in this contentment also.  Because he also declares that

                        “And there is a barrel that
I didn’t fill

                         Beside it, there may be two or three” (Line
3-4)                      

Biblical references:

                   There
are many metaphysical elements in this poem with reference to The Book of Genesis.  Adam and Eve stated their journey from the
Heaven to earth after “picking” the “apple” of Tree of knowledge.  The poet sings that “But I am done with
apple-picking know” (Line 6).  The life
in this earth may be almost “done” and he may want to start another journey
through “sleep” through a “ladder” which is pointed “towards heaven”.

Symbolism in Birches

                     Robert Frost is
a poet; which always bring a man in his poems. Though he uses nature as a
setting  he denied the title as a nature
poet.  He brought nature in his poems, to
ignite himself and readers about the philosophy of mother nature.  He brings the symbol of “birches”, which is
“Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning” (Line 6), to remind us about “Truth” ,
life, death and to emphasis that ” Earth’s is the right  place to love” (Line 52). 

                        Frost sings that “I like
to think some boy’s been been swinging them”, eventhough he know that “Ice
storms do that”.  He loves to see the
“birches” which are “trailing their leaves on the ground” as,

“girls on hand and knees that throw
their hair

            Before
them over their heads to dry in the sun.”

or
as a rural ” boy bend them”.  Certain
events or places may bring certain forgotten images to mind.  “Truth” tells him that “ice storms” make them
bend. Thus knowledge takes away certain innocence and joy from life.  This is same as when we enjoyed moon and its
light but the knowledge of what exists in moon makes it less romantic.  Birches also brings nostalgia about his own
childhood and thorns of life persuades him to go back to childhood memories.

            “It’s when I am weary of
considerations,

            And life is too much like a pathless
wood”

There,
he comes to the significance of poetry. 
“I’d like to get away from earth awaile

                                                                             And then come back to it and begin over.”

If
poetry is regarded as the “birches” and “swaying” as journey to “toward 
heaven”.  This “heaven” may be
sublimity in  realm of imagination. 

Comparing the symbols in After Apple-Picking and Birches

                        Symbols in both poems
reminding readers about life, death, Time, weariness of life and all.  Narrator in After Apple –Picking is “over-tired” and narrator in Birches is “weary of
considerations.”  Both poems also shares
a theme of metaphysical wold, in former through a pointed “ladder” to  heaven and in latter through the swaying.  Both poem share background of nature and a
romantic rural setting.  The focus point
of the former poem is “apple picking” (life) which makes the poet “over-tired”
and pulls him to “sleep” (death). In Birches
 the swaying in childhood and his
lost joy  reminds of passage of
time.  Though Frost is a simple poet who
always adheres nature, he is not a nature poet and moreover   philosophic in nature. Both poems shares
such philosophies of Robert Frost as a realistic, naturalistic and regionalist
poet.

Work Cited: