Notes to Poem:
Gift of Apples

Peter Y. Chou

Preface: On April 24, 2010, I found the link that Is and Ish originally meant Light, and the name Isis, once Ish-Ish, was Egyptian for Light-Light. That night at Cubberley Pavilion, I felt a blessing of light while ballroom dancing with a Chinese girl Janet. Afterwards I wrote "I danced all night and / spread my wings with a girl / whose smile lit up the stars." After dancing with her again on May 22, Janet gave me a dozen Fuji apples, prompting me to write "Is this gift of apples / a temptation or blessing / from the goddess?" When I saw the first logo of Apple Computers with Newton under an apple tree, it occurred to me that apples may symbolize inspiration instead of evil connotations associated with this fruit. Over the next two weeks, I compiled Apple Symbolism notes from 14 books in my library as well as from the Stanford Library. Despite Janet treating me to dinners and more gifts of almonds and fruits from her garden, I never had the time to write this poem until now. May it be a small token of thankfulness to her kindness and generosity that a gift of apples means "May Peace be with you."

These evil apples caused much harm
but there are apples of blessing like
those from Garden of Hesperides

that Hercules had to obtain as
one of his twelve labors by
killing the dragon guarding it.

The Norse goddess Freyja shakes
her apple tree for a good harvest
and making the gods immortal.

King Arthur was taken by
the Triple Goddess to Avalon
"Apple-land" of eternal life.

Gypsies slice an apple traversely
to reveal the "Star of Knowledge"
pentacle found in Tarot cards.

Three apples fell from heaven
inspiring Newton's gravitation,
Beatles music and Apple Computers.

In Chinese, apple and peace
(p'ing) sound alike so giving
apples means "Peace be with you."

My favorite tale is Emerson's dream
as he floated in space and saw
Earth the size of an apple.

Then an angel brought the apple
to him saying "This must thou eat"—
and Emerson ate the world.

Commentary on Poem "Gift of Apples":

A moon cycle after we first danced
she gives me twelve Fuji apples
and later six golden apple pears.

Moon cycle refers to the 29 days after we danced (April 24) to her gift of apples (May 22). The Fuji apple was developed by growers at the Tohoku Research Station in Fujisaki, Aorori, Japan, in the late-1930s, and introduced to the market in 1962. It is a cross between the Red Delicious and old Virginia Ralls Genet apples. It is named after Fujisaki, Aomori Prefecture, but often mistakenly thought to be named after Mount Fuji. Fuji apples ar very large and round, on average the size of a baseball. They contain between 9-11% sugars by weight, and have a dense flesh that is sweeter and crispier than many other apple varieties. With refrigeration, Fuji apples can remain fresh for up to 5-6 months. In Japan, Fuji apples continue to be an unrivaled best-seller. In America, Fuji apples ranked at number 4 in 2003 after Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, and Gala. It is recommended for eating raw, for salads, and for pies and baking. (Image: Ohio Fuji Apple courtesy of the U.S. Apple Association)

Eve giving Adam the apple
resulting in the Fall of Man and
expulsion from Garden of Eden

The Economist issue
(Dec. 19, 2009-Jan. 1, 2010)
Eve gives Adam Apple i-Pod
"And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat." (Genesis 3.6)

Man's expulsion from the Garden of Eden resulted from Eve giving Adam the forbidden fruit (apple) which gave us the knowledge of good and evil. Hence, the apple became a symbol of temptation and our downfall from grace. The January 1, 2010 issue of The Economist shows Cranach's Adam & Eve 1526 painting adapted for the modern age. Here, Eve is depicted on the cover giving Adam an Apple i-Pod. The cover article "Progress and its perils" warns the danger of technology permeating our daily lives.

Lucas Cranach the Elder
Adam and Eve (1526)
Eve gives Adam an Apple

Then there's the Apple of Discord
which Paris gave to Aphrodite
causing the Trojan War and his death

Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640), The Judgment of Paris (1639), Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain
At the wedding of the Greek goddess Thetis, Eris (strife) presented a golden apple to be awarded to the fairest woman present. The goddesses Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite all claimed the prize. Zeus appointed Paris, the son of Priam (King of Troy), as judge in the beauty contest. Paris chose Aphrodite, who promised to reward him with the love of any woman he chose, and described the beauty of Helen, the wife of Menelaus, king of Sparta. Paris abducted Helen, and brought her back to Troy, an action which precipitated the Trojan War, in which he was killed. The myth conveys the idea that physical beauty, though alluring, can ultimately be destructive.
(Source: David Fontana, The Secret Language of Symbols, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, 1993, pp. 107, 127)

Next we have Witch-Queen poisoning
Snow White with a red delicious apple
before she was revived by the Prince

Snow White is a fairy tale Schneewittchen by the Grimm Brothers. It was popularized by the 1937 Disney film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Snow White is a princess living with her stepmother, a vain and wicked witch known only as the Queen. At the film's opening, the Magic Mirror informs the Queen that Snow White is now the fairest in the land. The jealous Queen orders her huntsman to take Snow White into the woods and kill her, but he spares her life. The Queen eventually discovers that Snow White is still alive when the mirror again answers that Snow White is the fairest in the land. Using magic to create a drink that will disguise herself as an old hag, the Queen goes to the cottage while the dwarfs are away and tricks Snow White into biting into a poisoned (magic wishing) apple that sends her into a deep sleep, which can only be broken by love's first kiss. Lightning strikes the cliff where the Witch-Queen was standing on and she falls to her death. After several seasons, a Prince comes and kisses the comatose Snow White, which breaks the spell and awakens her. (Source: Snow White with the poison apple from Disney film)

Apple Computers
Apple Computer, Inc. was established on April 1, 1976 in Cupertino, California. The company was founded by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne, and was called Apple Computer, Inc. for its first 30 years, but removed the word "Computer" on January 9, 2007, to reflect the company's ongoing expansion into the consumer electronics market in addition to its traditional focus on personal computers. An early 1976 ad "Byte into an Apple" features the original logo of the Apple Computer Company at 770 Welch Road, Palo Alto, CA 94304, (415)-326-4248. It shows Isaac Newton reading under an apple tree before the apple fell on his head, inspiring him to write The Principia with his discovery of the universal laws of gravitation. The border of this Apple logo: "Newton— "A mind forever voyaging through strange seas of thought— alone." The Apple-1 computer including 4K bytes RAM was priced at $666.66. ("Apple's Forgotten Founder: Ronald Wayne", San Jose Mercury News, June 3, 2010, A1, A12) (Image: Original Apple Computer Logo from Digibarn Computer Museum)

Newton's Apple Tree
There is a popular story that Newton was sitting under an apple tree, an apple fell on his head, and he suddenly thought of the Universal Law of Gravitation. As in all such legends, this is almost certainly not true in its details, but the story contains elements of what actually happened. Probably the more correct version of the story is that Newton, upon observing an apple fall from a tree, began to think along the following lines: The apple is accelerated, since its velocity changes from zero as it is hanging on the tree and moves toward the ground. Thus, by Newton's 2nd Law there must be a force that acts on the apple to cause this acceleration. Let's call this force "gravity", and the associated acceleration the "accleration due to gravity". Then imagine the apple tree is twice as high. Again, we expect the apple to be accelerated toward the ground, so this suggests that this force that we call gravity reaches to the top of the tallest apple tree. Now came Newton's truly brilliant insight: if the force of gravity reaches to the top of the highest tree, might it not reach even further; in particular, might it not reach all the way to the orbit of the Moon! Then, the orbit of the Moon about the Earth could be a consequence of the gravitational force, because the acceleration due to gravity could change the velocity of the Moon in just such a way that it followed an orbit around the earth. (Image: Newton's Apple Tree with DNA traceable to the apple that allegedly caused Newton to realise that gravity was universal. Source: NPL Science Exhibition at Info Island II.)

Google's Isaac Newton Apple Tree Logo
In honor of Isaac Newton's birthday on January 4, 2010, and his discovery of universal gravitation, Google animated their search page with the Apple falling off the Google logo and dropping to under the search box. This is the first time Google animated their Logo using JavaScript. (Image: Google Newton Apple Tree Logo animation)

                                                            — Peter Y. Chou
                                                                Mountain View, 12-30-2010

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