The Use of Metaphors in Frost's, “After Apple Picking”, “Birches”, and “The Silken Tent”

The Use of Metaphors in Frost's, “After Apple Picking”, “Birches”, and “The Silken Tent”

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Robert Frost was a man who went through several challenging obstacles in his life. In his poems, he uses a great deal of orientational metaphor that expresses such difficult times. This poet, can also be considered a realist, he believes it’s necessary for things to break down. According to Frost, “All metaphor breaks down somewhere. That is the beauty of it. It is touch and go with the metaphor, and until you have lived with it long enough you don’t know when it is going. You don’t know how much you can get out of it and when it will cease to yield. It is a very living thing. It is as life itself”. His poems use metaphors to give main concepts spatial orientation; he gives meaning to them by showing a journey of going toward heaven and then coming back to earth. For example, in an essay written by Frost himself, he explains that in order for students to understand the true meaning of thinking, they must understand that it is merely being able to say one thing in terms of something else “… To tell them that is to set their feet on the first rung of a ladder the top of which sticks through the sky.” This quote is ideal as we look further into three poems by Frost in which orientational metaphors are used and also connect with the symbol of toward heaven and then coming back to earth. In particular, “After Apple Picking”, “Birches”, and “The Silken Tent” are writings that display a misconception of a subject; nevertheless there is in fact another meaning behind it.

As we begin to take a closer look at “After Apple Picking” it is evident that every line of this poem contains a representation of metaphor. For example, “My long two-pointed ladder’s sticking through a tree/ toward heaven still/ and there’s a barrel that ...


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...picture/images of trees, we are being given “… a powerful, dynamic drama of climbing birches, of a boy testing the limits of his daring, keeping his balance in a precarious positions of his own choosing. Too far from town to play baseball, too alone to be challenged by others, he challenges himself.” (Faggen 160) Along with the description of this boy, within the poem there also comes a combination of memories, imagination and a bit of reality. Within the first few lines, Frost depicts imagination when he explains that in his mind he likes to believe that a boy has bent the birches. Reality then kicks in immediately after the thought when he comes to a realization that only ice storms can bend them down. A metaphor that Frost uses to compare the birches “… Like girls on hands and knees that throw their hair/ Before them over their heads to dry in the sun...”

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