Analysis of Fire and Ice

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Analysis of Fire and Ice

In Robert Frost poem, “Fire and Ice”, the reader receives the poet’s opinion on the two different ways civilization could end. Frost compares the destructive forces of fire and ice, which are allegorical of the passionate nationalism and rigid isolationism of the day. He uses an imperfect rhyming scheme to emphasize points and links throughout the poem. In nine short lines, Frost sums up the socio-economic situation of his time. The rhyme link, between “fire” and "desire”, speaks to the rampant nationalism of the day. When Frost writes, “From what I’ve tasted of desire I hold with those who favor fire.” the reader can surmise he believes the passions of power, conquest, and nationalism will prevail. These passions were, as throughout most of human history, the driving destructive forces before, during, and after World War I. Just as fire can destroy all it consumes, so too can passion. The rhyme link, of “hate” and “great” with “ice” and “suffice”, speak to the isolationist nature of the United States. Frost, who knew enough of hatred, fear, and stagnation, knew that isolation and immobility could destroy just as well as passion. During much of the time, surrounding World War I, the United States was an isolationist nation, which in part leads to the events of World War II. Just as ice can crack, erode, and destroy so too can isolation. This poem, written before the rise of Hitler and Nazi Germany, seems almost prophetic. Frost conveys his belief, with “But if it had to perish twice,” that we can choose to go down neither the path of fire nor ice. Both extremes are destructive and, when left unchecked, could lead to the destruction of civilization just as with the alluded to biblical flood.
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