Iambic Verses in Rhyme
Aside from the very clear use of rhyme, "Fire and Ice" seems rather formless. But there's a lot going on in those nine lines. In his early career, Frost stuck to more traditional forms, like rhyming couplets and iambic pentameter. He mastered them as well as any American poet ever has. So, when a great craftsman like Frost decides to loosen up a bit, as he did later in his career, you can still see bits and pieces of a more orderly style. You know the saying: you have to learn the rules in order to break them.
The rhyming is hit-you-over-the-head obvious. For example, in order to rhyme with "ice," you have to use words that contain "ice." And, in order to rhyme with the word "fire" you have to use words that contain "ire," a word that means "anger" or "wrath." So, Frost makes a very clever choice in repeating these sounds several times. In the deep pockets of your mind, they resonate with a primal drumbeat: "ice…ice…ice" and "ire…ire…ire." You sense the elemental quality of these emotions.
The first two lines are really like a prologue. They do not have the same rhythm or syllable count as the other lines. Starting in line 3, a pattern becomes clear: eight-syllable lines in an iambic meter. An iamb is a rhythmic unit with an unaccented syllable followed by an accented one: "I hold with those who fav-or fire." Most lines in the poem have four iambs. The last two lines are really like a single line that has been broken in two for the sake of the rhymes. It's as if the poet decided to make his rhymes work "double-time!" This quirky, unique ending accounts for much of the poem's fame and power.
Analysis of Poem “Fire and Ice”
The poem “Fire and Ice” was made in 1920. It discusses the end of the world, likening the elemental force of fire with the emotion of desire, and ice with hatred.
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,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice
The intrinsic elements are as follow:
The substance of the poem is about the fate of the world; how the world will end, is it destroyed by fire or by ice? The author portray that we can be the speaker of the poem. Some of us will on desire, while the rest of us will on hatred. This made all of us debate about it.
The theme of the poem is about choice and fear; otherwise I can say “every things has its own power” to describe meaning of “fire and ice”.
3. Form and Meter
This poem is a free verse, consisting of 9 lines, which greatly narrows in the last two lines. The pattern or structure of Fire and Ice is A-B-A A-B-C B-C-B. It indicates the rhyme scheme on this poem. The poem varies between two meter lengths (either eight syllable or four syllable). In the first two lines, they don’t have the same rhythm or syllable count. Starting in lines 3, the pattern is eight syllable lines in an iambic meter. The last two lines is actually like a single line which is broken for the sake of rhyme.
4. Figurative Language
The figure of speech is figurative language in the form of a single word or phrase. Figures of speech used in “Fire and Ice” are as follows:
Symbolism: it is the key of the poem because the author makes fire as a symbol of desire, passion, and ice as a symbol of hate or hatred. When the speaker relates fire to desire and ice to hatred, I knew that fire and ice are symbols for human behavior and emotions. These symbols are taken into broad scheme of the world, especially the war that was occurring. Besides, it can also be applied into our daily life as a warning against vices of desire and hatred in personal connection.
Imagery: fire and ice have deeper meaning in this poem. For example, fire means feeling of heat, burning, and pain; ice means cold, no communication, and hate. These images are well created by the author to draw attention in form of warning sign.
Understatement: the author says the words “some say” in the first two line representing group of the people who give the opinion of the way the world ends. By saying the word “same”, it makes these groups seem insignificant. Another understatement is on the last line “and would suffice” which is contrary to the previous line stating that the ice (hatred) has the awesome power and ability to destroy the world. It gives the absurd ending which makes the reader think that this poem has no conclusion.
Rhyme is the repetition of similar sounds. In this poem, it uses end rhyme, which occurs at the end of the lines. The rhyme scheme used in Fire and Ice is ABA ABC BCB. Therefore, it uses three sets of interwoven rhymes, based on –ire, -ice, and –ate. A represents –ire in the words fire and desire. B represents –ice in the words ice, twice, suffice. C represents –ate in the words hate and great.
6. Word Sounds
-Anaphora: the repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of successive lines. In this poem, anaphora is used in word “some say”. It is repeated in line 1 and 2 using different details.
-Alliteration: the repetition of initial sounds on the same line or stanza. It can be seen on line 1 and 2 [some say….] and line 4 […. favor fire]
There are some words within the lines which the meaning is implicitly told by the author. As we can see in line 3 [from what I’ve tasted of desire], the word tasted is the best one to describe experience. The word “great” in the line 8 means powerful, the author use the word “great” to make the same rhyme.
8. Tone and Mood
The tone of the poem is ironic and detached because the author reveals that both fire and ice are equally destructed although in the last line it is a bit ironic for the ability of ice. While the mood of the poem is clinical and almost objective but ambiguous or confused as the speaker weighs up the various benefits of ice and fire, but at the end of the poem it is not clearly stated which element is greater to destroy the world and how the world will end.
Extrinsic elements of this poem include the biography of the author and the social condition of the period when this poem was made.
1.About the author
Robert Frost was born on March 28th, 1874 in San Francisco, California. He spent the first 12 years old of his life there until his father died of tuberculosis. Then, he moved with his mother and sister to the town of Lawrence, Massachusetts. Frost attended Lawrence High School over there, where he met his future love and wife, Elinor White. After he graduated from high school in 1892, he attended Dartmouth University for several months. In 1894, he had his first poem, “My Butterfly: an Elegy”, published in weekly literary journal. With this success, Frost proposed Elinor when she had graduated from college and they married in 1895. In 1897, Frost attended Harvard University, but he had to drop out due to health concern. In 1900, he moved with his wife and children to a farm in New Hampshire and they attempted to make a life on it for the next 12 years; it was a difficult period in his personal life actually. In 1912, Frost and Elinor decided to sell the farm in New Hampshire and move to England, where more publishers will be willing to take a chance on new poets. Within just a few months, Frost found a publisher that would publish his book of poems. The time Frost spent in England was one of the most significant periods in his life though it was short. Then, Frost returned to America and he continued to make other poems. Roberts Frost is highly regarded for his realistic depiction of rural life and his command of American colloquial speech. His work frequently employed settings from rural life in New England in the early of twentieth century.
2 Social circumstances in Modern Period (1901-1939)
Modernist literature is mainly characterized by a very self-conscious break with traditional ways of writing, in both poetry and prose fiction. The horrors of the First World War saw the prevailing assumption about society reassessed, and modernist writers were influenced by such thinkers as Sigmund Freud and Karl Marx, among others, who raised question about the rationality of the human mind. Therefore, modernist literature came into its own due to increasing industrialization and globalization. New technology and the horrifying events in World Wars made many people question the future of humanity; what was becoming of the world? Most literature had a clear beginning, middle, and end; it was cast in the first person. Irony, satire, and comparison were often employed to point society’s ills.
Thus, from these extrinsic elements, it is really suitable with the poem “fire and ice” by Robert Frost because the meaning of the poem is about questioning how the world will end, he touched the sense of humanity by mentioning fire and ice relating to human behavior.
Author:Angga Brian Fernandi
I am a student of Semarang State University. I study English Literature , Faculty of Languages and Arts. I am fond of writing. Keep writing to inspire everyone and share a lot of knowledge. View All Posts