Fire and Ice Analysis

Kailey Ausley Ms. Shumpert English 1102 TGAF 04 April 2013 An Ambiguous Meaning A poem is used to express the emotions and experiences of the author. There are four types of poems: narrative, lyric, didactic, and dramatic. A narrative poem contains a sequence of events in chronological order that tells the reader a story. A dramatic poem is normally used for onstage performances with dramatic monologue. A lyric poem is songlike, but the subject matter is not song appropriate. A lyric poem has rime, which is where words look alike, and rhyme, which is where the words sound alike only.
A didactic poem teaches the reader morals or a lesson. A reader can, however, develop many meanings behind the poem due to a certain way he is feeling or a life experience. In poetry, there is no right or wrong meaning. Poetry speaks to each of its readers differently. In Robert Frost’s poem “Fire and Ice,” it is both a lyric and didactic poem. There are several meanings that can be argued in “Fire and Ice. ” Is Frost’s “Fire and Ice” about the world ending or a past love that has ended? In the first two lines, Frost writes, “Some say the world will end in fire, / Some say in ice. The first thought that comes to mind when reading these two lines is that the poem is about the debate on how the world will one day end. Christians believe that the world is going to end in fire as the Bible says. Second Peter chapter three, verse twelve declares, “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. ” People not of the Christian faith believe that the world is going to end, just not in fire.
The Earth once experienced an ice age, and scientists have deemed it true that this is how the Earth will end once again. A reader may not interpret the first two lines to be related to a past relationship in any way. Consequently, the context will probably have a literal meaning until reading further into the poem. The third and fourth lines however may cause the reader to begin questioning the meaning behind the poem. Frost writes in these lines, “From what I’ve tasted of desire/ I hold with those who favor fire” (Frost 441).

Frost states that he has experienced desire at some point in his life, and he delighted in it. Frost could have experienced the love of God and could have known He is existent. Frost could also be using these lines to inform the reader of a passionate relationship. Although the reader does not know exactly what Frost is referring to, it is recognizable that he has a deep passion towards something. Frost writes in lines five through nine, “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” (Frost 441).
These five lines give the impression of contradiction to the first four lines. Frost goes from talking about death by “fire” to death by “ice” (Frost 441). Frost says though that if he had a second chance he would choose ice. The reader can comprehend here that Frost is saying everything will come to an end eventually. If he is talking about how the world will end, he knows that human death is inevitable and everyone will die. Perhaps Frost is talking about a relationship; he knows that all good things must come to an end.
He would rather the relationship to end in “fire,” or passion, but if it ends in cold, heartless “ice,” it is okay because it was going to end at some point (Frost 441). To simply say that this poem was about either of the aforementioned would not be fair. Poetry has its own way with each and every reader. However, there are two things that are certain no matter who the reader is; this poem is a didactic because it teaches a lesson and lyric because it has rime and rhyme. The lesson of this poem is that everything must come to an end, whether it is good or bad.
Frost never revealed the true reason of writing this poem, but he did write it to express his emotions. Maybe he was literally talking about how the world was going to end, or he could have been talking about a lost relationship. Because Frost never gave the true meaning, the reader is left to let the imagination wonder. Without a true meaning, the reader can form his own opinion from what speaks to him within the poem. Frost, Robert. “Fire and Ice. ” Backpack Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, And Writing. Ed. X. J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia. New York: Pearson, 2012. 441. Print.

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