Fire and Ice - (2005)
for high, medium or low voice and piano
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
I think I know enough of hate
To know that for
Is also great
And would suffice.
[ 2 pages, circa 1' 20" ]
From Harper’s Magazine, December 1920, and included in his
anthologies, this popular poem speaks to the modern dialogue of the world's
end through natural and supernatural catastrophes. In my early years in
college, the enthusiasm -- it if must be called anything -- was to forecast
the world's end through scientific means. Scientific American, a
magazine I no longer trust for accurate reporting, carried their
catastrophic "end time" message of global cooling, whereas only thirty years
later they report and politic for the opposite scenario. Fire or ice? Both,
were one to survey only thirty and more years of "popular" science
The very human penchant for predicting our world's end has been an exercise
spanning millennia, in which those who predict are often also those who
propose supposed solutions which not surprisingly benefit those who propose
the solutions. Religious leaders of many sorts have convinced their
followers of actions necessary to that "end time," and the modern seemingly
scientific jargon seems more of the same. Given that adaptability is one
hallmark of life, from the Darwinian perspective, it is more likely that we
will adapt to whatever changes we will next experiences, more than control
the weather which is the modern -- and hence age old -- doctrine.
Frost rightly notes in his wondrous few lines "desire" and "hate" are
hallmarks of mankind's continuing generations, and that either "end" to the
life, the world, and the cosmos will "suffice." Those infected with the
great, world religion of "I am right and you are wrong" will argue that one
or the other is our end, while that "end" comes to us all, irrespective of
The triadic polytonality suggests the discussion between "fire" and "ice,"
with each fitting into a larger scheme of things. The first two bars
indicate the differences of opinion as the lower triads descend by
half-steps over the upper triads' movement in whole steps. The setting ends
with a restatement of the poem's beginning and then its title, "fire and
The score to Fire and Ice is available as a free PDF download, though
any major commercial performance or recording of the work is prohibited
without prior arrangement with the composer. The violin part is attached at
the end of the file, as a separate score. Click on the graphic below for a piano-vocal score.