Fire and Ice

Fire and Ice: An Introduction

June 7, 2021 by Essay Writer

Fire and Ice

When I first read this poem, the first thing that I notice is general idea that whoever is speaking (in first person) is describing the end of the world. The first thing that comes to mind is the movie “Armageddon” and meteors burning up the earth, representing the fire. I can also see the planet covered with great glaciers with everything buried beneath sheets of ice. That is especially frightening to me as I live here in warm Hawaii. I can understand the literal meaning, that the person who is speaking says if the world were to end they would favor fire, but ice will also do. These are things I know to be true upon a first reading.

Another thing I looked at was the structure of this poem. It is arranged so that there is a rhyming scheme, which I believe was intentional by the author. The way the poem seems held together by the rhyming is aesthetically pleasing. One thing interesting that I saw was the scheme in lines 6 and 8 differ from the rest of the poem. The words that rhyme are “hate” and “great”, which is an ironic association to make between something considered bad and something which is by definition good. Another thing I noticed about the rhyming was that in the first 4 lines, the word ice (2) does not rhyme with fire and desire. This may have been to show an initial contrast between fire and ice.

Now that I have established what I know, I now ask myself some questions about what I do not know about this poem from an initial reading. How do fire, ice, desire, and hatred relate? Why is their relationship important? What is Frost trying to say in this poem? These are the main questions that I had.

To begin to deal with the first question, in line 3, the speaker says “From what I’ve tasted of desire” and then continues into line 4 with “I hold with those who favor fire” here the speaker makes a connection between fire and desire. I believe he is trying to use fire as a metaphor for desire. From personal experience, I know a desire can be all consuming and much like a wild fire raging out of control and destroying everything in its path. The speaker also appears to understand how destructive desire can be, and makes it his first choice for the end of the world.

Then the speaker speaks in the second half of the poem. There he states in line 7 of how ice “Is also great” for destruction based on their knowledge of hate. Here the speaker makes a connection similar to that used in first half, except here between ice and hatred. It should be noted that the author is performing the same process with two sets of opposite things, desire and fire, and hatred and ice. I can also relate to how cold hatred is. When I do things I really hate, it feels like time and the clock hands are frozen in time. Hate is also cold in the sense that when one truly hates something, they will do anything to cause harm or eliminate it, no matter what the consequences. Any heart can be frozen in hatred’s iron grip. So, the speaker states that hatred can also destroy the world.

I believe fire and ice, and desire and hatred were first brought up as opposites. When one thinks of fire, one thinks heat. When one is hot, they would like to drink something cool. When one thinks of ice they think of cold. When one is cold they want to sit by a fire and warm up. Desire is the want to have or create something while hatred is wanting to destroy it. I have answered my first question about how fire, ice, hatred and desire are associated. I can begin to see that my answer to the second question (what is the deeper message in this poem?) is getting closer.

Frost begins to confuse me with line 5, “But if it had to perish twice,” as nothing can die twice. This paradox leads me to believe that there is a larger paradox hidden in this poem. When the speaker talks of the destruction that will cause the end of the planet, they cite two opposite causes, fire and ice. This leads to the larger (and more important) paradox where the author is implying that ice and fire, and the speaker-associated emotions of desire and hate are really the same thing. Fire and ice are the same, as are desire and hatred.

While at first, this may seem impossible (as is the nature of paradoxes), I looked at the context of which the author speaks of fire and ice, and desire and hatred. When the person discusses fire and ice, and desire and hatred, they do it in the context of the end of the world. Both the fire and the ice, and desire and hate can ultimately end up destroying the world. The author is trying say that because both of these pairs of opposites can bring about destructive force, they are really the same. I have now answered all my questions, and can begin reflecting on the poem.

Something that I found interesting was Frost’s use of the word “suffice” in line 9. This is where Frost states that fire and ice (and their associated emotions) are equally dangerous. Yet there is an irony in this. When one thinks of fire, they see a bright, smoky, dramatic event. Whereas ice is just plain old ice. While the two are same, they are also inherently different. Fire goes through the flashy process of burning, where ice is just frozen. But they still result in the same thing. That is the irony.

I can make one main assumption about Frost’s values. He believes that anything in the extreme, such as hate or desire can be in very dangerous, potentially causing the end of the planet. I tend to agree, as governments bent on either hatred of others or the desire for power have, in our history caused great pain and suffering. One shining example of this is Adolf Hitler’s hatred of people who were different. This cold hatred lead to a great war and Holocaust in which many people suffered and died.

Though this poem was written over 70 years ago, it carries an eternal message and a paradox. Any emotion taken to the extreme is dangerous, and opposites become the same (destructive) at an extreme state. We must all be careful not to hate or desire something so much that it becomes an obsession, for a Holocaust lies in all of us.

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How Nature Plays a Pivotal Role in Mending Wall and Fire and Ice by Robert Frost

June 7, 2021 by Essay Writer

“Mending Wall” by Robert Frost is about how everyone needs a barrier. Without one, people would be vulnerable and easy to target, easy to hurt. Then you have “Fire and Ice,” which is also by Robert Frost. It is about the two arguments of how the world may end. It is either going to be full of flames and everyone will burn, or it is going to freeze. The theme of “Mending Wall,” is that nature is powerful. That could also be said for “Fire and Ice.” The author built the theme of nature in each of these poems using imagery and symbol.

Imagery is the use of vivid or figurative language to represent objects, actions, or ideas (The Free Dictionary). In “Mending Wall,” there are many examples of imagery. One of them is “We wear our fingers rough with handling them.” The speaker is building with his hands and he is saying how tired and beat up his hands are going to be from working so hard. Imagery is used to paint the reader a picture and tell a story. What stands out is when Frost writes, “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall.” This stands out because it is repeated again in the poem, and it is also the first line. When a line, word, or phrase is repeated, it needs to be looked at carefully because there is most likely going to be some importance. You can take away that nature is what does not love the wall because every spring the speaker and his/her neighbor have to rebuild the wall because it has crumbled to the ground. If nature wanted it there, they would not have to constantly keep rebuilding it every year. It would just stay standing. The use of imagery in this poem is really important because it makes the reader see exactly what is happening as they are reading the poem. You can see the “loaves” and the stone wall being built in your mind. You can see the speaker putting a spell on the stone to make it stay, and the speaker laughing alone as the neighbor does not laugh at his humor.

In “Fire and Ice,” there is also the use of imagery. “Some say the world will end in fire,” is one example. Imagery is used to make the reader really think and be left with the question of how the world will really end. Will it end with fire, or ice? At first, the speaker says he agrees with the side of fire, but at the end of the poem he realizes that ice can be just as harmful. Freezing and burning are two very unpleasant things, and it is hard to pick one over the other. Imagery is important in this poem because when the words “Some say the world will end in fire,” appear, the reader is forced to see in their mind, a world of flames. It is horrendous. When he says “Some say in ice,” you see an ice age. You see a frozen, still world.

Symbol is something that represents something else by association, representation, resemblance, or convention, especially a material object used to represent something invisible. (The Free Dictionary). In “Mending Wall,” one of the symbols is the fences. In the poem, the line “Good fences make good neighbors,” is repeated multiple times. The fences are a symbol of that barrier that everyone has around them. No one wants to be completely exposed. When something can hide who someone truly is, they will feel more comfortable because there is something in front of them that is hiding who they really are or whatever it is that they do not want everyone to see. Without that barrier, people would stand defenseless. Everyone needs some type of armor, even if it is invisible to the naked eye.

In “Fire and Ice,” the symbol is the ice. “Some say in ice,” does not literally mean cold. The speaker goes on to say “I think I know enough of hate/To say that for destruction ice/Is also great.” Since the word “hate” is added to the poem, there is reason to believe that the ice is not actual cold from weather; it is from the cold hearts of everyone. The hate people have for each other can ultimately be the cause of the end of the earth. To prevent the world from ending in ice, people need to be more loving and warm-hearted. In both poems, symbol is used to hide a deeper meaning. It makes the reader really think hard about the meaning of the poem.

The use of imagery and symbol are used in each poem to build the theme of nature. Each poem talks about something nature related, and each is about the destruction of nature. In “Mending Wall,” you see that nature does not want the wall there since it is being taken down by the forces of nature every year. People should take their barriers down sometimes and let people get to know them more often. The connections people make with others means a lot and that is how they get to where they end up in the world. In “Fire and Ice,” you see that the world may end in either fire or ice. Right there is an example of the destruction of nature. In one case, ice, the world will end from hatred. There is not enough love in the world, and that could end up leading to the end of the earth. In both poems, human connections are what is considered when talking about nature. Barriers are there for people to take down. Only take them down for people who matter. Hate is strong, and if everyone keeps hating each other, the world is going to be a cold and lonely place.

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Robert Frost’s Fire and Ice: Literary Analysis

May 6, 2021 by Essay Writer

Robert Frost’s Fire and Ice outlines the familiar question regarding the fate of the world of whether it is more likely to be destroyed by fire or by ice. Frost introduces his personal take on the question of the end of the world. He concludes that the world must end in fire due to his personal experiences with the emotions of desire and passion which are emotions of fire. He reflects upon his experience with ice or hatred as well and concludes that would be just as equally destructive. It is clear that the poem had several interpretations and Frost uses metaphor and imagery to convey his message.

In the first two lines of the poem, Frost creates a distinct difference between fire and ice and claims that the world will end as a result of one of these elements. The most noticeable literary device used in Frost’s poem is metaphor. The words “fire” and “ice” are compared to ways that Frost believes the world will end. Fire is compared to desire when Frost states in lines three and four: “From what I’ve tasted of desire I hold with those who favor fire.” Here Frost is referring to his own life and feelings of desire. By comparing fire to desire one can assume that desire is a sin. Frost appears to believe that the world will end due to fire because people are maybe more sinful and posses desire which could result in the death of humanity. Although the first two lines of the poem insist that there can only be a single choice between fire and ice, Frost acknowledges that both elements could successfully destroy the world. He has had personal experience with both of these elements in the form of desire and hate which reveals that fire and ice are not mutually exclusive. Although Frost first concludes that the world will end in fire, he later goes to admit that the world could just as easily end in ice.

Through the use of literary devices like metaphor and symbolism, Frost is able to help convey a deeper meaning in his poem. When noticing these devices, the reader is able to look deeper into the poem to better understand it. In just a few lines of poetry Frost is able to educate his readers of the destructive powers of desire and hate. The themes presented in this poem can be interpreted many ways depending on who is reading the poem, but with the use of Frost’s literary devices he is able to steer his readers in a certain direction.

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Robert Frost’s Fire and Ice: Poem Analysis

May 6, 2021 by Essay Writer

Fire and Ice

  1. Some say the world will end in fire,
  2. Some say in ice.
  3. From what I’ve tasted of desire
  4. I hold with those who favor fire.
  5. But if it had to perish twice,
  6. I think I know enough of hate
  7. To know that for destruction ice
  8. Is also great
  9. And would suffice.

When I first read this poem, the first thing that I notice is general idea that whoever is speaking (in first person) is describing the end of the world. The first thing that comes to mind is the movie “Armageddon” and meteors burning up the earth, representing the fire. I can also see the planet covered with great glaciers with everything buried beneath sheets of ice. That is especially frightening to me as I live here in warm Hawaii. I can understand the literal meaning, that the person who is speaking says if the world were to end they would favor fire, but ice will also do. These are things I know to be true upon a first reading.

Another thing I looked at was the structure of this poem. It is arranged so that there is a rhyming scheme, which I believe was intentional by the author. The way the poem seems held together by the rhyming is aesthetically pleasing. One thing interesting that I saw was the scheme in lines 6 and 8 differ from the rest of the poem. The words that rhyme are “hate” and “great”, which is an ironic association to make between something considered bad and something which is by definition good. Another thing I noticed about the rhyming was that in the first 4 lines, the word ice (2) does not rhyme with fire and desire. This may have been to show an initial contrast between fire and ice.

Now that I have established what I know, I now ask myself some questions about what I do not know about this poem from an initial reading. How do fire, ice, desire, and hatred relate? Why is their relationship important? What is Frost trying to say in this poem? These are the main questions that I had.

To begin to deal with the first question, in line 3, the speaker says “From what I’ve tasted of desire” and then continues into line 4 with “I hold with those who favor fire” here the speaker makes a connection between fire and desire. I believe he is trying to use fire as a metaphor for desire. From personal experience, I know a desire can be all consuming and much like a wild fire raging out of control and destroying everything in its path. The speaker also appears to understand how destructive desire can be, and makes it his first choice for the end of the world.

Then the speaker speaks in the second half of the poem. There he states in line 7 of how ice “Is also great” for destruction based on their knowledge of hate. Here the speaker makes a connection similar to that used in first half, except here between ice and hatred. It should be noted that the author is performing the same process with two sets of opposite things, desire and fire, and hatred and ice. I can also relate to how cold hatred is. When I do things I really hate, it feels like time and the clock hands are frozen in time. Hate is also cold in the sense that when one truly hates something, they will do anything to cause harm or eliminate it, no matter what the consequences. Any heart can be frozen in hatred’s iron grip. So, the speaker states that hatred can also destroy the world.

I believe fire and ice, and desire and hatred were first brought up as opposites. When one thinks of fire, one thinks heat. When one is hot, they would like to drink something cool. When one thinks of ice they think of cold. When one is cold they want to sit by a fire and warm up. Desire is the want to have or create something while hatred is wanting to destroy it. I have answered my first question about how fire, ice, hatred and desire are associated. I can begin to see that my answer to the second question (what is the deeper message in this poem?) is getting closer.

Frost begins to confuse me with line 5, “But if it had to perish twice,” as nothing can die twice. This paradox leads me to believe that there is a larger paradox hidden in this poem. When the speaker talks of the destruction that will cause the end of the planet, they cite two opposite causes, fire and ice. This leads to the larger (and more important) paradox where the author is implying that ice and fire, and the speaker-associated emotions of desire and hate are really the same thing. Fire and ice are the same, as are desire and hatred.

While at first, this may seem impossible (as is the nature of paradoxes), I looked at the context of which the author speaks of fire and ice, and desire and hatred. When the person discusses fire and ice, and desire and hatred, they do it in the context of the end of the world. Both the fire and the ice, and desire and hate can ultimately end up destroying the world. The author is trying say that because both of these pairs of opposites can bring about destructive force, they are really the same. I have now answered all my questions, and can begin reflecting on the poem.

Something that I found interesting was Frost’s use of the word “suffice” in line 9. This is where Frost states that fire and ice (and their associated emotions) are equally dangerous. Yet there is an irony in this. When one thinks of fire, they see a bright, smoky, dramatic event. Whereas ice is just plain old ice. While the two are same, they are also inherently different. Fire goes through the flashy process of burning, where ice is just frozen. But they still result in the same thing. That is the irony.

I can make one main assumption about Frost’s values. He believes that anything in the extreme, such as hate or desire can be in very dangerous, potentially causing the end of the planet. I tend to agree, as governments bent on either hatred of others or the desire for power have, in our history caused great pain and suffering. One shining example of this is Adolf Hitler’s hatred of people who were different. This cold hatred lead to a great war and Holocaust in which many people suffered and died.

Though this poem was written over 70 years ago, it carries an eternal message and a paradox. Any emotion taken to the extreme is dangerous, and opposites become the same (destructive) at an extreme state. We must all be careful not to hate or desire something so much that it becomes an obsession, for a Holocaust lies in all of us.

Read more

Symbolism in Robert Frost’s Poetry

May 6, 2021 by Essay Writer

Robert Frost is often referred to as a poet of nature. Words and phrases such as fire and ice, flowers in bloom, apple orchards and rolling hills, are all important elements of Frost’s work. Remove them and something more than symbols are taken away. These benign’ objects provide an alternative way to look at the world and are often used as metaphors to describe a darker view of nature and humans. In Frost’s poetry, the depth is as important as the surface. The darker aspects of Frost’s poetry are often portrayed through the use of symbolism, vivid imagery, and selective word choice. Frost’s poems appear to be simple on the surface, yet upon further scrutiny the poems reveal themselves as elusive. Frost utilizes ordinary objects to create a deeper meaning. For example, the poem “Mending Wall”, appears to be about the differences between two neighbors and their ideas on rebuilding a wall.

On the other hand, the wall may be viewed, in a more general sense, as a symbol to represent all the antagonistic or mistrustful barriers that divide man from man. “The gaps I mean / No one has seen them made or heard them made / But at spring mending-time we find them there” (lines 9-11), illustrates the point that people become separated without even realizing it because we become so caught up in what is happening in our own lives. The darkness, held within the afore mentioned quotation, is the feeling of sadness. The fact that we do not take notice of one another creates a place that becomes more and more divided by differences. Likewise, the poem “Nothing Gold Can Stay” seems to represent the change of seasons. But further analysis reveals that the speaker is also paralleling the cycles of life with the change in seasons. “So dawn goes down to day” (7) illustrates that in life as in nature, golden moments fade away. “Then leaf subsides to leaf” (5) implies autumn, when the leaves begin to turn gold and fall to the ground. The color gold represents the end of life, whereas green represents new life.

The poem also illustrates the loss of innocence. As the seasons change, life progresses and innocence can no longer be sustained. Autumn represents death. The changes in the color of the leaves are often viewed as beautiful even though it marks the end of a season. The end to human life creates overwhelming feelings of anxiety and uncertainty. Death, for some people, is a taboo subject. People are not overly comfortable discussing death because of the emotions evoked. Yet, Frost has the ability to create an awareness of the subject by using the beauty of nature as a filter. Frost’s darker side is also prevalent through the imagery of many of his poems. For example, the title of the poem “Desert Places”, stimulates images of loneliness, feelings of abandonment, and a general sense of isolation. The word “desert” is often associated with harsh living conditions and a place devoid of life. The word it’, in “The woods around it have it is theirs” (5), refers to the field and suggests that the field is just there. The animals are absent too – “smothered in their lairs” (6). The speaker is “too absent-spirited” (7) to matter. Thus, without the care of man and without the animals the field is deserted, desolated, and lonely. The closing line “To scare myself with my own desert places” (16), examines the manner in which people often fail to get in contact with aspects of their personalities which are undesirable or difficult to admit. For example, the constant struggle between one’s inner feelings and the accepted social norms. “Desert places” also suggests that people have darkness within themselves. The absence of a meaningful self or lack of self-esteem may create feelings of isolation. “Stopping by Woods on a Snow evening”, also illustrates a dark complexity to Frost’s works. The poem captures images of loneliness and indecisiveness by selective word choice.

For instance, “woods” are sometimes connected with the unknown, darkness and isolation. The speaker also uses phrases such as, “darkest evening” and “frozen lake” to solidify the mood of aloneness. The speaker is riding into the darkness on an unknown journey, only to find himself caught “between the woods and frozen lake” (7). The speaker is caught between old patterns and new possibilities. The “woods” represent the unfamiliar while the “frozen lake” represents the familiar. The speaker contemplates the decision he must make: “The woods are lovely, dark, and deep, / But I have promises to keep” (13-14). The speaker’s journey has come to an end and he decides to return to the life that he has always known. The speaker is afraid to venture out into the unknown. Feelings of being confined to one’s particular role’ and way of being evoke emotions such as depression. In general, people live in fear of change. People are afraid to take a chance even without some guarantee. Beneath the apparent simplicity of Frost’s writings, lurks a hidden commentary on both the nature of personality and the social/political state of society.

Frost brings light to the darker side of humanity in an extremely subtle way. Dark complexities are not obvious on the surface, however they are hidden throughout his poems in the form of symbols, imagery, and careful word choice. Frost’s poetry acts as a metaphor for life. Upon first glance things look nice and orderly, but once the surface has been scratched the darker side becomes more apparent.

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