Analysis Of Robert Frost's Fire And Ice

1363 words - 5 pages

Analysis of Robert Frost's Fire and Ice

    For Robert Frost, poetry and life

      were one and the same.  In an interview he said, 'One thing I care about,

      and wish young people could care about, is taking poetry as the first form

      of understanding.'  Each Robert Frost poem strikes a chord somewhere, each

      poem bringing us closer to life with the compression of feeling and

      emotion into so few words.  This essay will focus on one particular poem,

      the meaning of which has been much debated due to the quantity of words

      used, or the lack there-of.


            There have been many readers of Frost's poem "Fire and Ice", thus

      being interpreted in many ways. Many readers would interpret the poem to

      mean something about 'the physical end of the world, or the end of the

      physical world' (1).  Lawrence Thompson views the poem as hinting at the

      destructive powers in "the heat of love or passion and the cold of hate,"

      sensing that "these two extremes are made so to encompass life as to be a

      gathering up of all that may exist between them; all that may be swept

      away by them" (2).


            Upon closer examination of "Fire and Ice", I found a distinct

      parallel that closely mirrors the tale of Dante's Inferno. The Inferno is

      the first part of Dante Alighieri's poem, the Divine Comedy, which

      chronicles Dante's journey to God, and is made up of The Inferno (Hell),

      Purgatorio (Purgatory), and Paradiso (Paradise).  In The Inferno, Dante

      begins his journey on the surface of the Earth, guided by the Roman epic

      poet Virgil, and spirals his way downward through the nine rings of Hell. 



            On a fundamental level the nine lines in "Fire and Ice" reflect a

      similarity to the nine rings of The Inferno, although Frost's poem does

      not consistently spiral downward, as does The Inferno. Dante's vision of

      Hell was cone shaped, made up of increasingly tight circles.  Fire was

      used occasionally in tormenting the sinners throughout Dante's travel into

      Inferno, until the ninth ring was reached. Upon entering the ninth ring, a

      comparatively blameless giant helped Dante and Virgil into the pit. 

      Torrents of wind had a group of sinners, giants, frozen into a solid lake

      of ice.  A three headed demon, Lucifer, at the center of the lake, was

      causing the sinners, and himself, to be frozen in place for eternity by

      the frenzied beating of his wings.


            The understated opening two lines in Frost's poem, "Some say the

      world will end in fire, / Some say in ice," at first seem merely to

      suggest the biblical and scientific predictions about the end...

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