Robert Frost died fifty years ago today.
One of my favourite poems is this, Fire and Ice, published in 1920, and inspired from a passage in Dante’s inferno and a conversation he had with a scientist. It discusses the end of the world, likening the elemental force of fire with the emotion of desire, and ice with hate.
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.
Frost experienced many tragedies and setbacks, and his poetry challenges us to read more deeply into the ideas behind the beautiful descriptive moments. Wikipedia tells us that his work frequently employed settings from rural life in New England in the early twentieth century, using them to examine complex social and philosophical themes.
Stopping by Woods has been used in funeral eulogies, for John F.Kennedy, and the son of Pierre Eliot Trudeau, among others. Some argue that it deals with profound world-weariness and the temptation to commit suicide; others prefer to see it as a moment of reflection on the silence and mystery of a winter wonderland.
The Road Not Taken can also be interpreted on several levels. What makes us decide as we do, and how would our lives have been altered if… if, at a turning point not recognized at the time, we had made a different choice? A different lover or mate, a different education, a different career or job, a different home, another child or none at all … so many turning points, so many roads not taken!
Do you have a favourite poem by Frost… or anyone else? Do you have a poem that you have memorized and like to recall, one that you would like to illustrate or take the perfect photo for, set to music, teach to your children, have read or recited at your funeral? Please share!