Poem Analysis

Poem Analysis

Poets employ an array of literary elements (more precisely poetic devices) to enhance their thematic purpose and make their pieces more entertaining and interesting. This paper analyzes various aspects of Robert Frost’s poem Fire and Ice.

The poem is quite short and merit is found in presenting it here:

Some say the world will end in fire,

Some say in ice.

From what I’ve tasted of desire

I hold with those who favor 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. (Frost, 2018)

As can be seen, the poet contrasts fire and ice as the main destructive forces through which it is believed the world will end. He states that he prefers fire and relates it to the notion of desire. As for ice he relates it to hate. In this regard, the poet uses ice and fire as metaphors, for he implies fire stands for desire, which in his opinion ignites anger. Arguably, fire is an antithesis of ice and vice versa because one is conceptualized to be the opposite of the other.

From a phonological perspective the poem is also quite interesting for Frost has used alliteration, assonance, consonance, and rhyme. Reading lines 3 and 4 of the poem, alliteration is noted through use of same sound words, in this case featuring letter F in the words ‘from’, ‘favor’, and ‘fire’ (Line 3-4). Assonance, which is the use of words with different consonants but having same vowel sounds (or vice versa), can also be noted in the poem.  Consider the bold letters (hence sounds) in lines 4 and 5 as in:

I hold with those who favor fire

But if it had to perish twice,

Clearly, resonance is created in line 4 through letter sound O whereas in line 5 this is achieved through letter sound I. In relation to consonance, Frost uses it for indeed the poem has half rhymes with repeated final consonants, although preceding vowels are different. This is noted in lines 6 and 7 where consonance is created/achieved by letter N and letter T respectively. A last yet important phonological feature is rhyme. The poem follows a rhyme scheme of ABA ABC BCB. While the poet has not followed a particular poetry convention, he has used his words in such a manner that the philosophical objective is captured both literally and otherwise. Coining and relating fire with desire and ice with havoc serves to increase the poem’s symbolic importance.

As to the poetic devices present in the poem, symbolism and parallelism can be noted. To start with symbolism, Frost uses fire to symbolize desire and intense passion whereas ice symbolizes havoc and hatred. The meaning to be derived from this symbolism can be two-fold: either at a deeper level or on the surface. Either way, the poem’s thematic purpose is enhanced through conceptualization of how human desire can make life unbearable in the world. Parallelism is also noted in lines 1 and 2 through use of the words ‘some say’. In essence the poet is drawing parallels between opinions of two camps: those who think the world will end in fire and those who think it will end in ice.


Works Cited

Frost, Robert. Fire and Ice. Poetry Media foundation and The National Endowment for the Arts, 2018. Web, Accessed March 5, 2018 at http://www.poetryoutloud.org/poems-and-performance/poems/detail/44263