Ode to an Apple
August 13, 2012 11:11 AM   Subscribe

I love apples (the fruit). For me they have all sorts of pleasant associations with childhood and family. Who is more eloquent than I and has written lovingly about apples? I'm looking for poetry or prose, fiction or non. (Inspired to ask this today by this amusing little post on the blue.)

I did see this earlier AskMe, which lists some good nonfiction things about heirloom varieties, but I'm looking for more odes or homages to apples, not so much practical information.
posted by Wretch729 to Food & Drink (17 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
For nonfiction, The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan discusses our long term relationship with (and altering of) certain plants, of which the apple is one. I've not read the entire thing, but have thoroughly enjoyed the excerpts I've read.
posted by jquinby at 11:18 AM on August 13, 2012

Pablo Neruda really loved his fruit, and the apple was no exception:

When we bite into
your round innocence
we too regress
for a moment
to the state
of the newborn:
there’s still some apple in us all.

posted by drlith at 11:25 AM on August 13, 2012

After Apple-Picking
posted by goethean at 11:27 AM on August 13, 2012

site:online-literature.com apple
posted by goethean at 11:31 AM on August 13, 2012

You could do worse than Thoreau's "Wild Apples":

"Apples, these I mean, unspeakably fair,—apples not of Discord, but Concord! Yet not so rare but that the homeliest may have a share. Painted by the frosts, some a uniform clear bright yellow, or red, or crimson, as if their spheres had regularly revolved, and enjoyed the influence of the sun on all sides alike,—some with the faintest pink blush imaginable,—some brindled with deep red streaks like a cow, or with hundreds of fine blood-red rays running regularly from the stem-dimple to the blossom-end, like meridional lines, on a straw-colored ground,—some touched with a greenish rust, like a fine lichen, here and there, with crimson blotches or eyes more or less confluent and fiery when wet,—and others gnarly, and freckled or peppered all over on the stem side with fine crimson spots on a white ground, as if accidentally sprinkled from the brush of Him who paints the autumn leaves. Others, again, are sometimes red inside, perfused with a beautiful blush, fairy food, too beautiful to eat,—apple of the Hesperides, apple of the evening sky! But like shells and pebbles on the sea-shore, they must be seen as they sparkle amid the withering leaves in some dell in the woods, in the autumnal air, or as they lie in the wet grass, and not when they have wilted and faded in the house."
posted by MonkeyToes at 12:14 PM on August 13, 2012

In the Chronicles of Narnia books there is a description of silver apples from a magical tree in (I think) The Magician's Nephew that always haunted me as a child
posted by Mchelly at 12:43 PM on August 13, 2012

I think "Moonlit Apples" by John Drinkwater is lovely and haunting.
posted by dlugoczaj at 1:09 PM on August 13, 2012

More lovely stuff:

"A Short History of the Apple," Dorianne Laux

"Apples," Grace Schulman
posted by dlugoczaj at 1:24 PM on August 13, 2012

I have not read it, but now want to: the chapter on apples in Edward Bunyard's "The Anatomy of Dessert" (1929; excerpt, in case first link fails):

"The need of care in selecting the right moment for each apple becomes more urgent when we consider the early varieties, where this instant of perfection has chosen to be with as great care as in the case of the more temperamental Pear. The first apples, such as Gladstone, Irish Peach, Feltham Beauty, should be eaten from the tree, or at any rate not kept over till the next day, when they will be flat and unprofitable. Of the three named, Irish Peach is to be preferred. Its fresh acidity with slight spicy aroma accords well with the warm August days. White Transparent, though usually cooked, is, at its brief moment, commendable. When ripe it becomes a transparent ivory white and the flesh is soft and yet full of juice. An acute writer has termed it a “before breakfast apple,” and a tree handy to the house will not be unvisited in late July and early August. In Gladstone we have the earliest of apples in our list, quite a good hors-d’Suvre to the apple season, but surely never was a fruit more unsuitably named. Its shining red cheeks and impudent eye lack the dignity rightly associated with the great Liberal leader; now Gloria Mundi, with its severe angles and pallid majesty, would have some claim."
posted by MonkeyToes at 1:52 PM on August 13, 2012

Nthing Neruda.
posted by asnider at 2:21 PM on August 13, 2012

I never thought I'd ever need to use this bit of information, but Edwin Morgan wrote a poem about apples here.

Tap me with your finger,
rub me with your sleeve,
hold me, sniff me, peel me
curling round and round
till I burst out white and cold
from my tight red coat
and tingle in your palm

as if I’d melt and breathe
a living pomander
waiting for the minute
of joy when you lift me
to your mouth and crush me
and in taste and fragrance
I race through your head
in my dizzy dissolve.

I sit in the bowl
in my cool corner
and watch you as you pass
smoothing your apron.
Are you thirsty yet?
My eyes are shining.
posted by Scottie_Bob at 2:43 PM on August 13, 2012

You might like Apples by Laurie Lee.
posted by Cheese Monster at 3:07 PM on August 13, 2012

Roald Dahl, in Danny, the Champion of the World, on the Cox's Orange Pippin:

"I’ve brought an apple for each of us,’ he added, fishing into one of his pockets.

‘A Cox’s Orange Pippin,’ I said, smiling. ‘Thank you very much.’

We sat there munching away.

‘One of the nice things about a Cox’s Orange Pippin’, my father said, ‘is that the pips rattle when it’s ripe. Shake it and you can hear them rattling.’ "

Won a bar trivia question with that one just last week. Also second Mchelly on that great passage from The Magician's Nephew.
posted by ostro at 3:26 PM on August 13, 2012

This is just a silly ditty compared to the others here, but it was in a children's poetry book I had as a child. No idea who it was by. I think it might even have had another verse, but I don't remember it:

Like golden moons
the apples bloom
upon the frosty winter tree.
I think how lovely
it would be
if some of them belonged to me.
posted by lollusc at 6:28 PM on August 13, 2012

Apple and Brute Stone
By Bei Dao

Translated By David Hinton

in the prayer ceremony of ocean
a storm bows down

stone watches over May in vain
guarding against that green contagion

as the four seasons take turns axing huge trees
stars try to recognize the road

a drunk using that talent for balance
breaks out from the time-siege

a bullet soars through the apple
life's on loan
posted by BlueHorse at 10:17 PM on August 13, 2012

"Of tasting those fair apples, I resolved
Not to defer; hunger and thirst at once,
Powerful persuaders, quickened at the scent
Of that alluring fruit, urged me so keen."

Paradise Lost
posted by MuffinMan at 1:48 AM on August 14, 2012

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