My Reading of Fire and Ice.
Fire and Ice is a popular poem written in 1923 by the twentieth century poet Robert Lee Frost. This poem is well known and has made it into many high school and college text books. Students often read this poem and take it in a Biblical context, as a prediction or affirmation of how the world will end. They typically try to explain the fire as having to do with the passage in the bible after the great flood, where God says when he destroys the world again it will be with fire. However, this poem being written in the roaring twenties speaks to the way we choose to live our lives, not end them.
The first two lines are the cause of many students" confusion, where Frost says: "Some say the world will end in fire, some say in ice". The words, fire and ice are meant symbolically of the passions in which decisions affecting the lives of thousands were made. Fire is change and the passions required to make the personal sacrifice or simply take the chance. Ice is like winter, the season that lacks growth; ice is the unfeeling heart who cannot sympathize with needs of others. World War I had just ended five years earlier, where 27 countries went to war resulting in 37,468,904 casualties and an unmentionable amount of money all because of the actions of one young Bosnian student. Was his fire like passion for justice or revenge worth the cost? Or was our leaders" icy disregard for the lives of millions of people the worse villain.
The words, the world will end, are taken too literally. How often in life do we refer to some mistake we have made as capable of bringing about the end of the world. We do not mean that the earth is going to explode, this statement simply refers to a change, wanted or not, that may be accompanied by consequences. In the 1920's Americans were well acquainted with consequences.
In lines three and four of the poem Frost wrote "From what I have tasted of desire, I hold with those who favor fire".