Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Fire and Ice - Close Reading

Fire and Ice
Robert Frost

"Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favour fire.
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."

It's interesting that Frost gave different emotions to the two elements of Fire and Ice, though both the elements and the emotions fit well together. Classically, fire is seen as being passionate, while ice is seen as being distant and unfriendly. While both elements can be seen as agents of destruction, they can also be seen as symbols of rebirth. For example, when a forest catches on fire, the trees burn and the animals are killed or are forced to leave. After a little while, however, the fire goes out and the soil becomes richer from the burnt materials. During winter, the world is covered in ice. Plants die and animals hibernate, but when spring comes and the snow melts, life can begin again. It's interesting how the syllables in the lines jump between nine, eight, seven, and four. I'm not entirely sure why that would be, maybe just so he could fit everything, but maybe the staggering and jumping around of lines is supposed to show that life isn't predictable and no one knows how anything is really going to end and that the narrator's guess is as good as anyone's.

1 comment:

Amy L said...

I think Frost's poem is very interesting and somewhat mysterious in a way. Although we are somewhat clear on what he is trying to express through using the elements, there is a sort of eeriness about poem, making the reader wonder why he chose to write about this in the first place.