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Compare and contrast "I Wandered as Lonely as a Cloud" by Wordsworth and "Fire and Ice"...

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user9879209 | Student, Undergraduate | Honors

Posted June 14, 2013 at 6:48 AM via web

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Compare and contrast "I Wandered as Lonely as a Cloud" by Wordsworth and "Fire and Ice" by Frost.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted June 14, 2013 at 11:12 AM (Answer #1)

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The strongest element of comparison between both poems is how the natural world is used to evoke a more profound condition of being.  Frost uses the natural elements of fire and ice to discuss issues of desire and destruction.  Within the seemingly straightforward depiction of natural reality exists a deeper and more profound statement of being in the world.  The "blaze of fire" and the "frozen in ice" conditions of consciousness end up reflecting much more than mere statements of nature.  They embody human perspective on being in the world.  In much the same way, Wordsworth uses natural elements to illuminate a philosophical condition of being in the world.  Wordsworth is able to use the presence of the natural world to suggest how individuals are to live their lives.  The natural world is seen as a way to better understand one's own function and purpose in the world.  For Wordsworth, it represents a fusing between the individual spirit and the natural world.

While there is a strong tendency to see philosophy in nature in both poems, the reality is the poems depict this in a very different way.  Wordsworth's answers to consciousness in the modern world through nature is relatively easy to comprehend in terms of answers and understanding, while Frost's poem presents no easy answer to the statement of being in the world.  Frost's poem has little in way of "simple" answers.  There is a philosophical foundation concerning how nature can represent so much, but little else in way of seeing how Frost envisions the world to be.  Frost leaves little in way of certain answers.  There are more questions as to whether the world will end in fire, or in ice, or in some type of hybrid combination.  All that is known is that the natural concepts of "fire" and "ice" hold some level of philosophical profundity to them. What happens afterwards is dependent on the reader's understanding and where Frost takes them.  

In this regard, Wordsworth is much more direct in his poem.  He is blatant as to where he thinks the reader should go and does his best to ensure that the reader follows.  There is a strong connection between nature and the emotional sensibilities of the individual.  When one recognizes this, Wordsworth suggests that there is a greater chance of happiness and a more "real" way of living.  Nature is the answer, regardless of the question.  In this, there is a clear philosophical stance offered, something that Frost's poem does not wish to do.

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