Frost leaves the reader with two main questions in this poem: What sort of sleep is he referring to? What is it that troubles him so? The typical form of sleep, most often associated in poetry, is death. The poem speaks of a rest from picking apples which could be a reference to the Garden of Eden. After the apple was picked (and, of course, eaten) man was cast into a world of sin, death, and trouble. The narrator explicitly states that he "...was well/Upon my way to sleep before it fell..." (lines 14-15). Death is emphasized greatly throughout the poem. The narrator's reference to heaven, the hints of a journey to immortal sleep, ceasing apple-picking, the approaching winter, the time of day being night, and the hibernation of the woodchuck all point to a symbolism for death.
The "winter sleep is on the night," (line 7), in my opinion, appears to be a great bearing towards a symbolism for death.
Winter is the end of the year, the season where everything is cold, trees lose their leaves, and life is ceasing to exist. Not only does this text situate itself in the winter, but it is also nighttime. Night creates images of darkness in most reader's minds, as well as an image for death. Many authors use night scenery to portray death, or subsequent danger.
Another view, a possibility, is that the narrator's sleep is comparable to nature's sleep. The resting point is similar. "Essence of winter sleep is on the night,/The scent of apples: I am drowsing off." (lines 7-8). Perhaps the narrator is in a drowsy state, an almost hibernation-like level, the type of hibernation that the earth goes into during the winter time. I believe that the mention of the woodchuck is just another...