Interpetation of "Fire and Ice"
I am a huge Robert Frost reader. I am in no way stating this analysis as a fact, rather my own personal interpretation . If you read a lot of Frost, you notice almost all of his poems start with a very basic, shallow setting or idea, usually pertaining to nature. As you progress in the poem, the pool gets deeper to the point where the surface of the pool is a mere reflection blanketing the poem's actually symbolic depth.
"Fire and Ice" one of Frost's shortest poems, but it is also one of the most powerful, symbolic, and broadest. Frost is known as individualist, and also believed in mutualism. He believed that in extremes no side is better than the other. "Fire and Ice" illistrates this beautifully. For your convenience I will restate the poem.
SOME say the world will end in fire, 1
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire 3
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice, 5
I think I know enough of hate
To know that for destruction ice 7
Is also great
And would suffice. 9
Lets start with the first couple lines. For now, we will interpret it as it is. Frost is stating the Earth can either end in a great fiery apocalypse, or an frigid ice age. Easy enough, right?
In the next line Frost throws the reader a curve ball. What does desire have to do with the world ending? Hmm..maybe perhaps he isn't talking as literally as we once thought.
Lets consider this. Maybe he isn't talking about the destruction of the world. What does the word desire bring to mind anyway? Think about, it will come in handy later, I promise.
One time or another we have all been in love. This love often can be a synonym with desire. Furthermore, sometimes this love, this desire, this all consuming passion can sometimes be destructive!
Line four supports my idea of what fire really means even more. Frost states that from what he has tasted (or experienced) of desire (the apocalyptic fire) he would rather be consumed by extreme love than ice...but wait a second. Love and...ice? This makes no sense, UNLESS ice has a emblematic meaning.
Lines five, six, and seven are very important to understanding this poem. Line five states "But if it had to perish twice". This tells us Frost is talking about losing love twice! This of course, is a very bad thing, so line six goes on to say that losing a love twice would expose Frost to enough hate and pain of losing who you once loved the most that he would rather the world (or his being) end in 'ice' then going on with fire, which has burned him once too many times. I think this is very true. Is it not often those who we come to love the most in our life we can end up hating the most (after a relationship ends badly)? Such a strong contrast in feeling is hard to imagine, but it happens all the time.
Line seven pretty much spells out what this mysterious 'ice' is. Its hate. Plain and simple, Frost is saying he would rather love and be consumed by passion, but if he had to of loved and lost twice he would be so broken that he would rather end his days frozen in hate, for too much of either can be destructive to the soul (mutualism), and to echo the final line, nine, either would suffice in breaking a man.