‘Fire and Ice’ - Robert Frost In the poem ‘Fire and Ice’ Robert Frost explains how the world will end by either fire or ice. The poet uses these two primal elements to serve as a metaphor for the destructive powers of the universal human emotions. ‘Desire’ which he associates with fire, and ‘hate’ which he associates with ice. The poet uses the first person singular and concludes that from personal experience he sides with the people who believe the world will end in fire. But, after analysing his experience with hate, he concludes that ice would be equally as destructive.
Frost effectively communicates the central focus of the poem which is how desire and hate are equally as powerful in bringing the destruction of the world. Frost uses an irregular rhyme scheme, simple language and a carefree attitude towards these particular destructive forces to signify the importance of how each emotion is equally as destructive. Frost wrote ‘Fire and Ice’ in iambic pentameter, but he does not strictly follow it as the meter is deliberately changed to put emphasis on certain parts of the poem.
In the beginning and end of the poem, for example, Frost changes to dimeter, to emphasise the meaning and to engrave those particular two lines in the reader’s mind. This is because Frost wants the reader to reread and really reflect on how desire and hate are equally as destructive. ‘Dimeter’ is a metrical line of verse with two feet, and the fact that this particular meter is a duo is quite interesting because the poet is only focusing on how TWO emotions are equally as powerful.
The irregular rhyming scheme is also very important in emphasizing the importance of the two emotions destruction. This is shown when the poet purposely uses words that end in ‘ice’ or ‘ire’, the repetition of these words create an echoing effect which rings in the readers mind to emphasise the elemental quality of desire and hate. The poem doesn’t include much descriptive language or specific literary devices because it relies more on its structure, form and a simple tone to convey its message.
This is quite a contrast as the poet is describing two unique emotions with such lack of emotional/descriptive words. The poet uses this technique to effectively convey how people undermine the destructive powers of the human emotion, people think that the world may end in a nuclear winter/ice age (ice) or global warming/incinerate (fire) but ignore the realities of how excessive desire and hate can ultimately lead to destruction.
The straight forward tone is demonstrated in the first line where the poet uses the word ‘some’ to explain the different views on the demise of the world. Some’ is a very vague and generalised word and Frost also uses this to portray the lack of knowledge people have about the true powers of the human emotions. In addition, the poet uses the word ‘suffice’ to end in the poem in an ambiguous and powerful way. This particular word indicates the narrator’s opinion that the word ending in ice would also be enough. The fact that this word is very casual and generalised not only demonstrates how both emotions are equally as destructive as one another, but also how the end of the world will always be a mystery.
No one will ever know because maybe it is that people do not realise enough the murderous consequences of human emotions. Furthermore, Frost is very clever in that he uses powerful descriptions of the elements ‘fire’ and ‘ice’ to help emphasise the destructive traits of desire and hate. In lines 3 and 4 the poet describes ‘fire’ with a quite sly attitude, the use of the word ‘tasted’ and the alliteration of ‘favor fire’ evoke images of greed and want which indicate how excessive desire can lead to potential dangers.
In line 5 Frost claims that ‘I think I know enough of hate’ which doesn’t exactly evoke strong images, unlike desire. Instead it creates a reflective mood as the reader takes a second to think about their own society and how hate literally fills every inch of the world and can have destructive impacts. This technique also helps emphasise the dangerous actions that hate can cause. In conclusion, ‘Fire and Ice’ is a very powerful poem as it forces the reader to reflect on their own society’s standards and how human emotions can be used as fatal weapons.
Frost’s creative and clever techniques of a carefree attitude, irregular meter and his simple language successfully help identify the equally as destructive powers both desire and hate have. The ambiguous ending also helps reinforce the poet’s attitude that which method will be the destruction of the world is unknown, and no matter which element or emotion it may be, they all can be equally destructive forces.