Fire and Ice, a Poem by Robert Frost

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.

Alright, another adventure down the gullet of poetry.

Today, I’m reading Fire and Ice, a creation by Robert Frost, a poet I have always had fond memories of. And that’s not because I think he’s anymore brilliant than his peers in the literature, but because he wrote poems that touch on interesting ideas while remaining accessible to people like myself, who are relatively untrained in reading poetry.

With my first reading, I basically knew what Frost was getting at. With my second, I confirmed that I’m probably correct in my intuitions, but I found that there’s more to unpack in Frost’s meaning.

It seems that Frost was inclined to believe that between greed and hatred, greed would be more likely to bring about the world’s undoing. I agree with this sentiment, as it seems to me that we, as a society, are more forgiving of greed than we are of hatred. Or perhaps it’s more correct to say that greed is the more prevalent of the two, while hatred is by nature more devastating.

Partly to blame, I think, is that our society seems to have more difficulty ascertaining what counts as greed and what does not. As a result, greed run rampant and unchecked, while hatred must bypass more legal and cultural safeguards.

Yet, all that being said, as Frost seems to say, both could do the job, either together or separately.

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It’s all I have to bring today by Emily Dickinson

It’s all I have to bring today—
This, and my heart beside—
This, and my heart, and all the fields—
And all the meadows wide—
Be sure you count—should I forget
Some one the sum could tell—
This, and my heart, and all the Bees
Which in the Clover dwell.

I remember reading a bit of Dickinson for a freshman English class in college. I recall there was quite a bit of head scratching involved. I may have also said some… unsavory things about her as I struggled to get her meaning. Well, I’m just a bit more mature than I was back then. Still scratching my head though.

I do want to share something other than another long winded post basically saying, “I have no idea what I just read”. So, I’m going to cheat a little bit and read up on this poem online. Hopefully, this will give me some ideas on what to look for in poems moving forward.

From what I’m reading, this poem has an A B C B rhyme. Okay. I can see that. And I must concede that it’s nice. Reciting this poem aloud, the words just roll off the tongue. It’s pleasant and lyrical. Some people seem to think this poem is about death. Others disagree and say it’s a poem about a lover and what she has to offer. I don’t have an opinion myself, and somehow I don’t think Emily will be clarifying her meaning on this anytime soon.

It occurs to me that perhaps there’s some significance to the word “Clover” as it’s capitalized. What that significance is, however, I couldn’t say. I’m also considering the possibility that this poem is supposed to be ironic, as the narrator first says she only has two things to bring, but then it turns out there’s actually three – no wait, now four. Is this poem about a woman who can’t settle on what to bring with her to vacation and ends up bringing way too much stuff?

I have no idea what I just read.