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What are some literary devices employed in the poem "Fire and Ice by Robert Frost?

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princessdiva | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted June 3, 2009 at 5:58 AM via web

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What are some literary devices employed in the poem "Fire and Ice by Robert Frost?

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Susan Hurn | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted June 3, 2009 at 9:30 AM (Answer #1)

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"Fire and Ice," for all its brevity, develops a profound theme and raises intriguing questions in regard to human nature. The primary literary device in the poem is that of implied metaphor. Fire becomes a metaphor for human desire, which is made clear in the third line. Ice works as a metaphor for hatred, which is implied in line 6. Another literary device is that of antithesis. Fire is the antithesis of ice. In finding an underlying similarity in their metaphorical opposites, Frost develops his theme: Human desire, such as love or passion, can be just as destructive as human hatred. The theme suggests an irony inherent in human emotions.The first two lines of the poem are allusions to different scientific theories relating to the future of the planet within the solar system. In regard to its poetry techniques, "Fire and Ice" features an interlocking rhyme scheme and iambic meter. Also, alliteration is present in the poem (Some/say and favor/fire).

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epollock | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted June 3, 2009 at 10:03 AM (Answer #2)

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princessdiva,

Robert Frost's brief poem "Fire and Ice" refers to two modes of ending the world: fire (metaphor for war, apocalypse, being swallowed up by a gigantic explosion of the sun into a supernova) and ice (metaphor for ice age, cooling, dying of the sun and the consequent extinction of all life).

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 poem investigates the destructive power of human passion (metaphors of desire and hate) through the symbolism of cosmic destruction by fire or ice. Fire is linked with desire; ice with hatred. The speaker knows both, and knows that both are strong enough to end the world (i.e., the human race)

One has to admire that final suffice; a magnificent understatement, it further shows the power of a rime to close a poem.

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climbergirl345 | Student, Grade 9 | (Level 1) Honors

Posted April 23, 2013 at 1:24 AM (Answer #4)

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In the poem, Frost is comparing fire to hate and ice to greed.  Fire and ice can destroy a structure, while hate and greed can ruin a person or a relationship between people.  Hate destroys quickly, and leaves only scars behind, while greed slowly attacks and does permanent damage to a person or relationship.  Fire destroys everything, and structures must be rebuilt; while ice only damages and weakens, but what remains needs to be repaired before it can be used, but is often abandoned instead of fixed.  Fire burns out quickly, but ice can last for long periods and even return later. 

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polito1997 | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 1, 2012 at 8:21 AM (Answer #3)

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Haha this is from my 9th grade textbook !

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