Robert Frost was born on March 26, 1874, in San Francisco, California, to his parents – Isabelle Moodie and William Prescott Frost, Jr. He lived in California till the age of eleven and later moved with his mother and sister to live with his paternal grandfather in Lawrence, Massachusetts. For the first years, frost learned his schooling under his mother isabelle. He graduated in 1892 from Lawrence High School. In 1985, Frost married Elinor White, a former schoolmate. Frost went on to pursue a career in teaching and continued to publish his poems in magazines to support his family. His first poem was published in the New York Independent, titled: My Butterfly: An Elegy, which earned him $15 , at the time of attending college. Robert Frost died on January 29, 1963, and is buried in the Old Bennington Cemetery in Bennington, Vermont England.
Watch the video tutorial below for explanation of the poem ‘Fire and Ice’ for class 10.
Fire and Ice by Robert Frost
Fire and Ice: Summary
The poet talks about the two different beliefs regarding end of this world. He says that he is in the favour of those who say this world will end in fire as he has seen the effect and result of uncontrolled and unending desires. He finds the human desires same as fire in its nature. On the other hand, the second belief tells that ice is sufficient for destroying this world and the poet compares the nature of ice with hatred. As ice can make a part of body numb with its prolonged contact like hatred can also give numbness to our mind and thoughts and make us insensitive and cruel.
The speaker brings us into the middle of an argument between people who think the world will come to a fiery end and people who think the world will freeze. He could be talking about the literal end of the world, but he’s also talking about the power that human beings have to harm or “destroy” one another.
The speaker’s experience with romantic desire has taught him that passionate or “hot” emotions like love and lust would probably have the power to turn the earth into a big fireball. But he has also experienced the other extreme, and he knows that colder emotions like hate have great destructive power. Love gets all the publicity, but hate is the silent killer. It may not have the same grandeur as the fireball ending, but it’ll do the trick
Fire and Ice: Textbook Exercises
1. There are many ideas about how the world will ‘end’. Do you think the world will end some day? Have you ever thought what would happen if the sun got so hot that it ‘burst’, or grew colder and colder?
Yes, I believe that this world will end some but when and how nobody knows. Whether the sun gets hot or it gets colder in both the situations end of this world is sure.
2. For Frost, what do ‘fire’ and ‘ice’ stand for? Here are some ideas:
‘Fire’ stands for greed, avarice, lust, conflict and fury. ‘Ice’ stands for cruelty, intolerance, rigidity, insensitivity, coldness, indifference and hatred.
3. What is the rhyme scheme of the poem? How does it help in bringing out the contrasting ideas in the poem?
The rhyme scheme of the poem is: a, b, a, a; b. c, b, c,b. The contrasting ideas of ‘fire’ and ‘ice’ are presented using this rhyme scheme. He mentions that both fire and ice are probable ends of this world. While he talks about how fire represents desire and can therefore be a cause of the end of the world, he also mentions ice in between to symbolise that the coldness and indifference towards one another will also be enough to end the world. In the second stanza, he says that he knows of enough hate in the world to be sure that even destruction through ice would be sufficient to bring about the end of the world