Fire and Ice by Robert Frost is a short, figurative and symbolic poem that juxtaposes the scientific assumptions of his time and his own imaginations. The poet talks about the discourse going on about which of the two things i.e. fire and ice will destroy the world.
Fire and Ice Poem Meaning
For the poet, fire means the burning desire for the material things and ice means coldness that emerges in humans because of the desires and materialistic life. He finally concludes that both of these weapons are equally dangerous and will lead the world towards destruction.
This short poem comprises of nine lines and has rhyme scheme ABA ABC BCB. There are three sentences. In the first sentence, the poet explains the popular debate that is prevailing in the society since long about what will destroy the world.
In the second sentence, he metaphorically changes the discourse. Now fire and ice mean something deeper and profound. in the final line, which is the longest, he gives his own thoughts.
As discussed above, I will explain the poem sentence-wise.
The poet begins the poem by narrating the popular and age-old debate about the two things out of which one will destroy the world. These two things are fire and ice.
Some scientists believe that it is the fire that will be responsible for the destruction of the world. The fire here means the lave which is in the core of the earth.
People believe that someday, the earth will burst and there will be huge explosions of fire that will burn the world and hence everything will be destroyed.
The other belief is that it is the ice that will destroy the world. Now, ice may refer to different things (as I have read different interpretations of this word in various sites). First, ice probably refers to melting of glaciers and rising of sea-level in which everything will sink.
According to CourseHero, Frost’s son died at the age of 4 which was followed by the death of his daughter, sometime before he composed this verse. Hence the ice may also refer to the tragedies which Frost had gone through in his life.
Whatever the meanings of fire and ice are, the poet gives a popular assumption of his time.
In the third line, the poet comes to his own interpretation of these two terms. According to him, he has tasted desire and hence he is of the thought that those who favour fire are right and he supports their view.
Desire is what led Adam and Eve to eat the fruit of the forbidden tree. It is the desire which makes the people greedy, materialistic and deceitful.
It is the desire for power that led the deadliest wars, battles and cost an
But, the poet says that if the world were to destroy twice ice would also have destroyed it. Ice, in the words of Frost, refers to coldness in the relation. With the emergence of materialistic thoughts, emotions and human warmness have vanished away.
In the race of worldly things, people have forgotten other humans and have started loving material things. Thus for the poet, the hate which has emerged because of desire would also have destroyed the world if it were had to perish twice.
Note how the poet has brought two different things together. Ice and fire cannot be there at the same time. But for the poet, desire (fire) is what leads to coldness (ice). Hence both will be there to destroy the world in the future.