Ladder to Heaven

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So I'm pretty sure the guy dies during the winter at the end of After Apple Picking. At first, that was all I really got out of the poem besides that it was sad and weary. But, I was confused as to how he harvested apples in the winter. Isn't that done in the autumn with all other foods? 

I'm not very good at poems especially long ones so I searched for what others thought about it and found a bunch of different explanations. From all of this, I gathered that he did indeed die at the end and the apple picking could be a metaphor for his life.

The apples are the desires he wanted to accomplish before he died. There were many things he looked forward to doing, many apples he wanted to pick, but many fell to the ground (he did not reach those goals). In the end, he didn't even fill his barrel (desired amount) of goals before he died, but he was so tired that he couldn't continue. "For I have had too much / Of apple-picking: I am overtired / Of the great harvest I myself desired."

The ladder "toward heaven still" was like his life in stages I suppose. Trying to get to the top of the corporate ladder maybe. Or as he goes higher (lives longer) the closer he is to heaven (or dying).

Classmates' Takes


Alyssa Sanow said:

I agree with the "sad and weary" aspect of this poem. It was definitely depressing to read someone's description of his death. In Frost's case, however, he seemed more ready to die as if he had completely given up on life! I also saw the apples as opportunities that he missed out on during the prime of his life, but when I read the line "But I am done with apple picking now" I got really frustrated. Frost's poem would have been more uplifting if he had kept struggling to reach the apples remaining on the branches, but instead he gave up!

Aja Hannah said:

I guess if he was ready to die then he just decided to quit his picking early. And I think many of his poems aren't uplifting from what I've read. They're just thoughtful, but this one is sadder in my opinion

Alicia Campbell said:

I suppose I see where you are coming from in your interpretation; however, I am also lacking in my ability to decipher poems. In both of our interpretations, I have the issue of being able to recognize what we see in some parts of the poem, but not in others. For instance, the parts about looking through a pane of glass and all of the apples going to the cider-apple heap continue to plague me despite considering them using several interpretations And as to your question about the harvest, maybe the apple picking was occurring in the autumn, and the coming of winter meant the death of the desires.

Aja Hannah said:

Yeah I don't know if the pane of glass is glass or if it is ice and it distorts everything.

And as for harvest, maybe it took all autumn and into winter (adult life) to harvest all of what he wanted, but he had too much to harvest and couldn't finish before winter (old age) set in.

Aja, I really liked your opinion on this poem. I also noticed that the guy is picking apples in the winter, but it didn't even cross my mind that he may have died at the end. But now that you brought this to my attention, I can definitely see how this could be true.

I too thought that the "pane of glass" was actually ice. But I still don't understand what it's purpose is in the poem. Any ideas?

Andrew Adams said:

I agree with most of the interpretaion, except that the poem is "sad and weary". I thought it more to be contemplative and sedate, a reflection of life. It does not seem sad to me, but rather a calm acceptance of the end of a man's life.

I don't think that he is harvesting apples in the winter, but rather the approach of winter is a metaphor for the approach of death. This makes sense if the harvest is his life. The harvest dies in the winter, and in this way of thought so would he.

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Recent Comments

Andrew Adams on Ladder to Heaven: I agree with most of the inter
Rebecca Marrie on Ladder to Heaven: Aja, I really liked your opini
Aja Hannah on Ladder to Heaven: Yeah I don't know if the pane
Alicia Campbell on Ladder to Heaven: I suppose I see where you are
Aja Hannah on Ladder to Heaven: I guess if he was ready to die
Alyssa Sanow on Ladder to Heaven: I agree with the "sad and wear