Fire And Ice, Robert Frost – an Analysis

Standard

Title
Death, or the end of everything, at both extremes

Gut Reaction
Remembering this poem read by Bella in Twilight and thinking, well, Stephanie Meyer, you may have excellent taste in music, and clearly you have a good eye for literature sources, but Bella is too much of a whiny bint to be allowed to read something as good as this. Leave Frost alone!

What does it all mean?
You’re going one of two ways. Either’ll do.

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

There is a dichotomy here, the world – life? – will end one of two ways.
Either our sun will expand and engulf us or it will go out altogether and leave us to freeze and starve. Lovely.
I’m going to take a stab in the dark here and interpret ‘world’ for ‘love’.
Because I can.
Love is either going to end in anger and passion and argy-bargy, or it is going to end with bleakness, loneliness and cold.
Hate, while surging through you with pain-fuelled heat, makes your very bones cold, so this makes sense to me.
It’s going to end either way. It never lasts. But it always, always burns, whether hot or cold.
Just as depressing as the apocalyptic view really, ah well.

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

He’s desired, he’s loved passionately, and he’d prefer his loves to end in the same, fiery way, if he had to choose.

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.

On the other hand, he’s saying, being frozen out by your lover is just as painful and horrendous, so if you’re looking for suffering, that’ll do too. Hate when a love comes to an end is just as painful.

Form – the vaguely technical stuff
Division and order
One stanza of 9 lines. Rhyming couplets of iambic pentameter.

Tone
Sad? Inevitable? Feels a bit like Frost is having an Eeyore moment

Suggested rhyme scheme
abaabcbcb

End stopped and run on lines with masculine rhyme. Really concise use of just three syllables to rhyme: -ire, -ice, -ate.

Alliteration.

Similes and metaphors
World – life – love?

Author’s relationship with their subject
Well it isn’t really with much emotion. This is going to happen. This is going to happen one of two ways. Either will do.

Other points of view (ideas from other sources)
The world is either ending in fire or ice, no alternatives. And then, along came the Homosapiens and said, nah, we’re having none if that, we’ll destroy it our way, thank you very much. If you’re up on your anthropogenic causes of climate change, you’ll know what I mean.
In keeping with the more traditional apocalyptic interpretation of this poem, the author isn’t sitting on the fence here. He’s saying, whichever way you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go. There’s no lesser of two evils.
Are we literally talking Greenhouse World versus Icehouse world?

Signing off
In honesty? Mr Frost sounds…medicated. Or at least inebriated. I see him sat with a bottle and glass to hand, talking resignedly, tiredly, and matter-of-factly – you say about the apocalypse being nigh, I say about love. He feels to me like a cynic who has had his fair share of broken hearts.
However you look at it, this poem is cleverly and concisely written, designed to resonate with whatever mood his readers happen to be in.

Links
Robert Frost

Grade Saver

Spark Notes

When I read this I think of the songEnd Of The World

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