Robert Frost’s short lyric Fire and Ice presents a paradox. Two antithetical words ‘fire’ that burns and ice’ that freezes are juxtaposed to strike an underlying meaning in the manner of an epigram. The epigram offers here a sort of speculation about the end of the world. How will the world end-in fire or in ice? The suitability of the title and the inherent sense of the poem are struck here in these antithetical concepts about the possible cause of the end of the world.
The poet, of course, puts standard views in the matter. A good many people will, no doubt, say that ‘the world will end in fire. In the heat of desire and passion, the human world will consume ultimately. The poet himself also agrees initially with this. From what he has seen and learned, he is aware enough that the fire of desire and passion, envy and temptation will reduce the human world into ashes.
At the same time, the poet admits the second view that ice is also capable of consuming the world by its power of freezing. What he indicates here, rather symbolically, is that human desire and interest, passion and ambition, maybe frozen and devitalized. That is the end of growth and the beginning of death.
The poet, thus, balances together antithetical elements-fire and ice. Either of them, it grows out of proportion, is sure to prove fatal. The extremity in any form upsets the balance and order in life, and that is anticipatory of end or death.
The crux of the poem is this very paradoxical issue-the end of the world, in fire or ice. These antithetical elements are potential enough to strike but from opposite angles. The title and the central thought of the poem are deeply inlaid in this juxtaposition as well as a conciliation of that contradictory concepts-fire and ice.