In his astoundingly short lyric of nine lines only, Fire and Ice, Robert Frost offers, in the form of an epigram, an interesting speculation about the end of the world, rather the human world. The present passage constitutes a part of this speculation.
Frost begins his poem by referring to the contrary opinions about the possible end of the world. Some persons hold the view that the world will perish in fire. Some others differ and predict that this end will come in ice. The point of contention here is the end of the world either in fire or in ice. So far as the poet is concerned, his experience leads him to accept the former view. What he has experienced out of his own desire that burns like fire within, he thinks that it is fire that will ultimately burn and consume.
Of course, fire and ice are taken here symbolically. To Frost, this fire is desire, restless desire, ambition, vaulting ambition, jealousy, green-eyed jealousy, and passion, insatiable passion. Man is never at rest from his pricks and pokes. He is consumed ultimately by his desire, ambition, passion, or jealousy as in fire. This is the symbolic part of the power of fire to perish the world. Frost’s other concept is ‘ice’. Ice freezes, nip the germ of life at the very root, and paralyzes the living world. To Frost ice stands for inertia, lack of interest or initiative, freezing of will, desire, andliveliness. This is nothing short of death. So the world perishes in ice, too.