Fire and Ice

by Robert Frost


The poem "Fire an Ice" by Robert Frost speculates the end of the world and how it will occur, either by fire or ice. The speaker of the poem expressed that they would rather see the world end in fire , "I hold with those who favor fire." However, the speaker also says that if they had to die again, ice would suffice as a good way to end the world, "To say that for destruction ice- Is also great- And would suffice." The speaker makes this decision off of what they know from hate, maybe relating to the speaker's own emotions.


The poem is not a narrative as it does not tell a story. Rather the poem describes the thoughts of the speaker in one moment of time. The poem gives off a mood of solemnity and a little sadness. The speaker is not speaking or trying to share their thoughts with anyone. They are just recollecting about their own thoughts and beliefs about the world's ending. Because the speaker is expressing their own thoughts to them self, without needing to worry about influencing or personal opinions of others, they can be trusted with expressing their true feelings. As the speaker gives his thoughts he also gives off a specific tone of peace and acceptance, but also a tiny shred of anger. This anger is seen where the speaker thinks of their knowledge of hate.


The poem is comprised of nine lines in the form of a free form poem. This format, tied in with the fact that all the lines are measurably short, adds to the feeling that the speaker is not actually conveying their message to someone else, but rather pondering over the ideas for them self. The poem does not have much room in its nine lines for movement of one idea to another. However, the attitude of the poem does change in the fifth line from a calm understanding to a more withheld anger. In the nine lines of the poem there are only three sentences. Two are very simple, using tradition subject verb placement and syntax. The third sentence is much longer covering the last five lines and holding the shift to anger mentioned previously. The poem largely uses enjambment, only ending five of its lines with punctuation.


The majority of the words in the poem are simple and straightforward. However, there are a few formal elements to the speech such as the words "perish" and "suffice." The words are used sparingly and in a very clear manner. This adds the mood of solemnity and quietness except for in the last section which includes the words "perish", "hate", and "destruction" which shows the poem's angry aspects. There are no direct examples of figurative language in the poem such as a simile or metaphor. However, the symbolism of the fire and the ice is deeply ingrained into the meaning of the poem. Fire is set up to represent desire in all things while ice represents the anger in the world, especially by the speaker in the second half of the poem.

Musical Devices

The rhyme scheme of the poem is ABAABCBCB. This scheme contains a mostly regular pattern, but the shift from ABAA to BCBCB, which also coincides with the shift from solemnity to muted anger, gives an irregular component to the song. The poem's rhythm does not have a regular repeating pattern, but rather it causes a feeling of tension that builds up until it resolves at the end. The poem does not use any alliteration or assonance which helps to cultivate its irregular feeling.


"Robert Frost." Poetry Foundation. Poetry Foundation, n.d. Web. 11 Feb. 2015

Rooney, Kathleen. "Fire and Ice." Poetry Foundation. Poetry Foundation, n.d. Web. 03 Mar.

By: David Reid 4th Period Mrs. King