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Fire and Ice

Robert Frost (1874-1963)

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Summary

Written by one of the most significant American poets, Fire and Ice proficiently tackles the continuous query about how the world will cease to exist, whether it will go up in flames, or succumb to the cruelty of ice. First published in Harper’s Magazine in 1920 and later included in his acclaimed anthology New Hampshire, Frost effectively employs the use of simple, yet evocative language that assigns each syllable a significant purpose in the poem, while simultaneously concentrating on a perplexing topic. Comprised of only nine lines, the lyrical poem introduces a narrator who presents the divided opinions on how the world will end, whilst also expressing his own judgment in order to validate each possibility and its effectiveness. Additionally, the poem is presumed to have been inspired by a passage from Dante Alighieri’s epic poem Inferno, which depicts the punishment of souls in the nine circles of hell, sentenced to either experience the pain of fire, or be subjected to the confinement within a frozen lake. Nevertheless, Frost efficiently depicts the degree of severity induced by both elements.