Saturday, May 10, 2014

Analysis of "Unharvested" by Robert Frost

Original poem reprinted online here: "Unharvested" by Robert Frost
Originally read: October 5, 2013
More information about the Poet: Robert Frost

An Elizabethan sonnet separated out with a ten line stanza and then a quatrain.  However, the first stanza could be separated out by two quatrains.

     A scent of ripeness from over a wall
     And come to leave the routine road
     And look for what had made me stall,
     There sure enough was an apple tree.

Cause and effect.  The speaker here is on a "routine road"  and then stops with the smell of "ripeness"  -- presumably apples or something more.  What this stanza does is focus the poem to what the scent means to the speaker.

     That had eased itself of its summer load,
     And of all but its trivial foliage free
     Now breathed as light as a lady's fan
     For there had been an apple fall

Note the play of language coinciding with the seasons -- summer as the season, fall as the verb.  But note the focus on the visual, the "ripeness" is from the end of cycle -- the last load of a tree.  And note how the simile is to a "lady's fan" which has pointed implications to something like a relationship or the past.

     As complete as the apple had given man
     The ground was one circle of solid red

     May something go always unharvested!
     May much stay out of our started plan.

Here the speaker is solid in his lesson.  Note that the mention of man here can have implications to Genesis and the question can be what has the apple given man?  However, the lesson of "much stay out of our started pan" feels more like the speaker impressing than interpreting the scene.  Is it really out of plan to have the apple fall?

"Apples or something forgotten and left, / So smelling their sweetness would be no theft"  So, if the apple (or "started plans") go awry, the "smell" of would be "no theft" -- here's where the poem gets tricky for me.  Not theft as in no stealing anything, or no theft as in not theft, rather the opposite, responsibility.

The images are strong here, the poem though has different enough avenues to be taken into different interpretations.  I can't pinpoint one though (one hour later) I still can't pinpoint one, but what's going through my head is: adultery, Genesis, power, structure, nature, natural fall, unnatural fall, seasons, smell, what is smell in conjunction with memory, what is taken from a fleeting sensation?  etc...yeah, sorry bout that.


  1. Sudden cue of ripeness / readiness / piqued /

    random waft of glittery desire (maybe soft and sheer, not necessarily ravenous) from :

    a wall / barrier / interstice / poem(page it's printed on)
    'over a wall' / eyes above a page / over a body (body the usual barrier to the writing of the poem? or poetry's lure away from the body, or ?)

    this pheromonal beckoning says "come over here, leave that routine road"..

    doldrums / same ol same ol

    so what is this lure? All I have is its faint aroma.. shall I investigate, suss it out..
    or enjoy the scent as is and leave it be, keep walking.. nah, check it out..

    oh, a tree. an apple tree

    Thing that produces apples, tasty fruit, nourishment, apple symbolism et al

    Smelled it, saw it, thought about eating.. smell, sight, taste, check.

    well, what now.

    Those ripe apples are about to rot (better hurry and eat one before they're too far gone, before this scene/opportunity changes, what made you come look if you didn't intend on taking a bite, hm?)..

    that empty tree dropped all its juicy blossoms to the ground.. left only a few sparse little leaves clinging (fig leaves? bra & undies? words in a poem?)

    lady's fan.. folds.. makes breezes.. wafts her scent.. back and forth motion of her body, of the seasons

    the apples fell from her, same as man did


    over, on top of, a lover.. ripe.. ready.,.
    orgasm from the 'routine road' - copulation, reproduction
    sperm seeks the egg (origin, cause of desire)
    tree, stiff, erect image - eased its load
    foliage / hair / threads (strands that shape the words on the page)
    the poem keeps breathing after the scene, immortalizes it, white...paper
    continues to waft, breathe what's made of air, ether (the poet's ideas)

    for there had been an event of apples falling
    apples collapsing
    apples succumbing to their inherent nature
    poets succumbing to their inherent nature
    complete the circular logic of life
    come - pleat - lady's fan

    circle of solid red - sun / giver of life / womb / birth / blood / fire / subjugation / summoning / delusions of attachment transform into the wisdom of discerning / first love vs true love
    lover / poem, making love / writing poetry

    circle of solid red surrounding the tree trunk

    SO.. look what caused all that!

    Fortune of forgotten apple pile, of olfactory senses (and poetic sensibilities)..

    Bravo, let them fall unattended to, untouched, uneaten.
    apples or.. whatever metaphor you prefer

    they might attract some bored poet and give them a little burst of impetus!


    Just keep walking, use your poetic sensibilities to come up with something better than an empty tree ringed by some rotting fruit, simply noting an everyday act of nature that resulted in a bunch of poor ne'er to be offspring.. (this poem?)

    Focus, in our started plan (our plan, plan where I, poet, tell you about how I came to write this poem.. "one day I was walking down the usual path until I smelled...")

    tell the story but remove the blah morning-commute bits. instead, remind us of our origins,
    of our humanity
    (our... poet and addressed / poet & you, the reader / poet & the poem)

    you might stick to these threads on a white page, this purity, this waft from my paper fan (to keep me alive, me Unharvested, me Robert Frost, me poetry, me literature)

    smelling(reading) this poem/me won't bother anyone, or steal their imagery/purity.. only carry this poem on.. breathe life into it.. read this poem and you are nurturing it.. write your own poem and you are nurturing poetry (especially if you write your own poem based on the advice THIS poem gave you.. then you are indebted/love this poem, it has acted as creator..)

    .. take up with a random lover and they'll steal your time and energy away from writing poems!..

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  3. .. take up with a random lover and they'll steal your time and energy away from writing poems!..

    or your act will make a baby that will grow up to read/write poetry (or be more inclined to, since you, the parent, the addressed, is obviously a reader of poetry)

    making you still an active participant in the proliferation of poems


  4. Those four lines make me think of genesis and the Apple of Eden it serves as a reminder of the fall of man. And what led us there. So some things should go unharvested even if they're desirable because they would lead to downfall and they smell sweet as does most sin but you must only smell not touch because touching would be a sin as with the Apple in Eden a theft