"Fire and Ice" by Robert Frost

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.
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.

Meaning of "Fire and Ice"

The poem itself does not require a large amount of explanation as to meaning of words or phrases, due to Frost’s concentration on making the poem readable and understandable by all. Despite the simplicity of the language use, the poem carries with it very deep thematic ideas. Essentially, Frost is providing commentary upon two of the darkest traits of humanity: the capacity to hate, and the capacity to be consumed by lust. Of the two, he attributes the greater of two evils to desire, saying “From what I’ve tasted of desire / I hold with those who favor fire.” In giving desire the foremost position in regards to the destruction of the world, Frost is providing a powerful statement on the subject of greed and jealousy, saying that above all else, even hatred, this is the trait of humanity that is most likely to lead to its demise. To Frost, desire represents the greatest problem that the world faces. In light of the fact that this was written in regards to the Great War, this statement is essentially attributing the cause of the war to human greed and lust, in doing so providing a current and relatable warning against this behavior in the future. Following his statement upon fire and desire, Frost then attributes hatred with almost the same capacity to do harm as desire, saying “I think I know enough of hate / to say that for destruction ice…would suffice.” While this lessens the relative importance of hatred in regards to the poem as a whole, it is still presented as having the ability to lead to the destruction of the world if it were to happen for a second time, again providing a powerful warning against this human fallacy. Overall, then, the intention and meaning behind the poem is a basic desire on Frost’s part to warn, in his own manner, against what he sees as the two greatest problems facing humanity.