16 Dec Fire and Ice
“Fire and Ice,” by Robert Frost, is one of the American poet’s most recognizable and well-known works. It is written in a simple, informal style with strong, repetitive rhymes to make the poem more memorable.
Kindly read the poem below:
Fire and Ice by Robert Frost
Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
Summary of the Poem
“Fire and Ice,” while only nine lines long, manages to pack a lot into a small space. The poet introduces two opposing points of view held by various groups of people.
The poem does not say who these people are, only that “some” believe the world will end in fire, while another group believes it will end in ice.
The speaker then considers each of these points of view and decides that, while they agree with the group who believes the world will end in fire, they also recognize that ice is a similarly destructive force that could just as easily lead to the world’s end.
Meaning of the Poem
“Fire and Ice,” like many poems, contains deeper meanings symbolized by the images it discusses. In other words, the poet is not implying that the world will end in fire or ice. These elemental forces, on the other hand, represent the concept of destruction in the world.
People have different ideas about what will destroy the world or even bring it to an end. These disagreements are referenced succinctly by pointing to the “fire” and “ice” groups, as well as the speaker’s own opinions.
The poem implies that one thing is certain, regardless of which side one takes: destruction is unavoidable.
Finally, the speaker tells us that either desire or hatred is equally likely to result in destruction. “Desire,” symbolized by fire, can lead to destruction through the unchecked accumulation of things or the drive to gain something at any cost.
However, “hate,” represented by fire, can also cause destruction by tearing apart interpersonal bonds.
Analysis of the Poem
Some literary critics claim that Robert Frost‘s “Fire and Ice” is inspired by Dante’s epic poem The Inferno, written in the 14th century. The Inferno depicts the poet traveling through hell (and later, in other Dante works, purgatory and paradise) and observing the fates of sinners. Some have drawn parallels between Dante’s work and Frost’s:
The 32nd section or canto of the Inferno describes a section of hell in which sinners are almost completely trapped in a lake of ice while also surrounded by an everlasting fire. Frost’s poem evokes the work’s contrasting imagery of fire and ice, which is present at the same time.
Hell, as described in Dante’s Inferno, is made up of nine concentric rings. The rings resemble a funnel, being wide at the top and narrow at the bottom. Readers have noticed that not only does Frost’s “Fire and Ice” have nine lines (possibly equating to the nine rings), but the lines also have a similar structure when printed: they are wider (longer) at the beginning than at the end.
Frost’s lines end in rhymes that follow the pattern abaabcbcb, which is very similar to Dante’s rhyme scheme, known as terza rima, which follows the pattern ababcbcdcded.
Aside from these parallels, Frost’s poem shares an apocalyptic (end-of-the-world) tone with Dante’s famous work.
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The Theme of the Poem
The apocalyptic forces mentioned in “Fire and Ice” operate on two levels. Fire and ice can be destructive forces in the literal sense. The ideas that the poem clearly connects fire and ice to (desire and hatred, respectively) can, on the other hand, be equally all-consuming.
Hatred and desire are not destructive forces in the same way that the elemental forces are. The poem, on the other hand, suggests that when people are driven by an obsession, whether it is fueled by hatred or desire, destruction can occur.
Aside from symbolic terms, Frost employs another abstract but equally clear language to emphasize the poem’s theme. The speaker mentions “destruction,” the thought of dying twice, and the notion that “the world will end” in the first line.