An Analysis of “Fire and Ice” by Robert Frost

This “Fire and Ice” poem analysis takes you step by step through the analysis process, allowing you to teach your own literary analysis whenever the fancy strikes, which is usually about 5 minutes after your administrator says he wants to observe your students applying higher level thinking skills.

Here’s a Symbolism in Robert Frost Lesson Plan. You don’t even have to continue reading unless you’re hankering for some amazing analysis.

“Fire and Ice” by Robert Frost

Lesson Plans of Robert Frost

You want to teach Frost but you’re afraid of an ice cold reception because you don’t have enough time to prepare a great lesson? No worries. These Robert Frost poetry lesson plans are ready to use.

An analysis of “Fire and Ice” begins with reading the poem. It’s short. Read it several times. That’s what I did. Then I followed these step-by-step instructions on how to analyze a poem.  Here’s a copy of the poem to save you the trouble of doing a Google search.

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,  5
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

My Collection of Essay Evidence for “Fire and Ice”

Poetic picture with link to poetry lesson plans.

Imagine having 11 complete poetry units with handouts and lesson plans completed. You don’t need to imagine. These units are teacher ready and student ready. Just print, make copies, and accept accolades from colleagues and students.

Any good Robert Frost poetry analysis begins with gathering data. The poem analysis of “Fire and Ice” by Robert Frost has led to the following observations and queries.

  1. As the title implies, “Fire and Ice” is a poem of contrasts, a poem of extremes.
  2. Ice = hatred; fire = desire; a more accurate word for desire would be lust, which is often associated with fire; the problem is lust doesn’t rhyme with fire.
  3. Fire and ice appear in the title and are repeated twice in the poem. They form the central concrete images in the poem.
  4. The rhyme scheme a b a a b c b c b divides the poem into proper sections while linking the two. Line five is a pivot (similar to what you’d see in a Spenserian stanza).
  5.  Meter – Mostly iambic tetrameter with a few lines of iambic duometer. The content of the poem seems ill suited for the quicker paced, faster flowing tetrameter.
  6. “Favor fire” (4) is alliterative.
  7. The entire poem is an example of meiosis, or understatement. Specific examples of meiosis can be found in lines 7-9. The casual reference to dying twice, knowing hate, tasting desire, and other understatements underlie the poem’s speaker’s call for moderation.
  8. The happy rhythm of the poem belies the underlying message of destruction.
  9. Theme: the dangers of extremism.

After the data is gathered, you’re ready to write the paragraph. Following is a sample analysis paragraph. Feel free to disagree with my interpretation.

“Fire and Ice” Paragraph Analysis

Poetic form and structure often enhance a poem’s theme or meaning. Frost’s ironic use of meter and rhythm in “Fire and Ice” underlies his hidden theme that moderation is the world’s salvation. Frost uses two extremes, fire and ice, as the poem’s controlling images, images which symbolize the two extremes of lust and hate. These two extremes, he expostulates, will eventually destroy the world. The rhythm and meter of the poem and the use of meiosis offer an alternative to extremism–moderation–and provides a solution to the world’s impending doom. Frost chooses the fast-flowing, less serious iambic tetrameter mixed with iambic duometer over the more serious, slower-moving iambic pentameter as a framework for his understated theme of the world’s destruction and potential salvation, a meter that brings to the forefront his use of meiosis: he casually states “I hold with those who favor fire” (4), and “for destruction ice / Is also great / and would suffice” (7-9) to comment on cataclysmic events. Although his poetic form contrasts the overt theme of the poem, it underscores its underlying meaning.

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