Fire and Ice Poem: Stanza Wise Summary, Analysis & Line by Line Explanation in English [Class 10]


Fire and Ice by Robert Frost is a short, figurative, and symbolic poem that juxtaposes the scientific assumptions of his time and his own imagination. The poet talks about the discourse going on about which of the two things i.e. fire and ice will destroy the world.


For the poet, fire means the burning desire for material things and ice means coldness that emerges in humans because of their desires and materialistic life. He finally concludes that both of these weapons are equally dangerous and will lead the world toward destruction.

This short poem comprises of nine lines and has a rhyme scheme ABA ABC BCB. There are three sentences. In the first sentence, the poet explains the popular debate that is prevailing in society for a 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.

Part 1

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.

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 love 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 on various sites). First, ice probably refers to the melting of glaciers and the rising of sea level in which everything will sink.

However, this interpretation does not seem to be the exact meaning of what Frost talks about. The other interpretation of ice is the entering of a meteor or any other thing from space which will stop the sunlight and hence, there will be an ice age that will make the world perish.

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.

Part 2

From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.

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 favor 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 people greedy, materialistic, and deceitful.

It is the desire for power that led to the deadliest wars, and battles and cost an uncountable loss of humans as well as other living things. Hence, for the poet, the fire of desire will destroy the world.

Part 3

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.

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 relationship. 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 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.

Further Reading

  1. Important questions and answers of Fire and Ice
  2. Play quiz on the poem Fire & Ice