Fire and Ice by 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.

In this particular poem Robert Frost provides us with a blunt commentary of two of the more sinister traits of humanity: the capability to hate, and the capacity to be utterly consumed by lust and desire. Of the two, he attributes the greater of two evils to desire, saying ‘From what I’ve tasted of desire / I hold with those who favor fire.’ In giving desire the foremost position in regards to the destruction of the world, Frost proclaims a compelling statement on the subjects of greed and jealousy, pointing out that above  hatred and any other vice, this is the fatal trait of humanity that is most likely end in its demise; to Frost, desire represents the greatest problem that the world faces. Although hatred is – to Frost – considered the ‘lesser of two evils’, its inclusion in the poem does suggest that we should recognise that hate ‘is also great’ and could also bring about the demise of the human race.

The concepts of fire and ice carry indented connotations that embody the recollection of the physical properties of each element. For one thing, fire evokes feelings of warmth and light, but antithetically burning and pain. Frost also manipulates the element of ice, creating a duality of positive and negative imagery, thus highlighting that the naivety of human nature can easy become beguiled by false pretenses.  The poem ultimately serves as a warning as to what the deadly vices of desire, but also how hate could just as easily bring about destruction and malice.

Robert Frost (1874-1963)

Robert Frost (1874-1963)

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