English Language & Literature

Poem 2: Fire and Ice

Class 10

Revision Notes

Fire and Ice

‘Fire and Ice’ is a short poem by Robert Frost. In this poem, the poet refers to two predictions of how the world will end. Some say it will end in fire while others say it will end in ice. According to the poet, ‘fire’ stands for desire, greed, avarice or lust. The more you try to satisfy them, the more they grow. There is no end to it. They spread rapidly like fire and engulf your whole life. One becomes selfish and sometimes cruel also. On the other hand, ‘ice’ according to the poet, stands for hatred, coldness and rigidity. One becomes insensitive and indifferent towards the feelings of others. The poet says that both fire and ice are growing with such a rapid speed that the world will soon perish either way, in fire or in ice.

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favour fire.

Explanation: The poet says that there are two notions in the society about the destruction of the world. The first of these theories states that fire will cause the disaster to happen. He equates fire with human passion and desire.
The poet frankly confesses that he agrees with those people who believe that the world will be burnt by 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.

Explanation: In these lines, the poet stops discussing the first theory and goes on to talk about the second theory – the theory about the destruction of earth by ice. He does not disagree with the first theory about fire. He simply considers what might happen if the earth were to be destroyed a second time. He is sure that the second time ice will be enough to destroy the earth as nearly and effectively as the fire. He then compares ice with hatred and indifference.

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