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Equilibrium of Love in Robert Frost’s “Fire and Ice” and Pearl Jam’s “Black”: Comparative Analysis

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One of the greatest comparisons to poetry would be considered music. Music is a different form of poetry being in motion. Poetry is an interpreted text since it has many meanings to different readers. Likewise, music has the same power on listeners. These artistic mediums provide an audience with a way to perceive ideas in different ways. Robert Frost’s “Fire and Ice” project similar meaning as Pearl Jam’s “Black.” Both the poem and song share similarities such as theme, irony, and symbolism.

Pearl Jam’s song “Black” was written in 1991 by Eddie Vedder, the vocalist of Pearl Jam. This song is usually perceived as someone losing their hope. It seems that the singer of the song has lost some sort of hope or true love. Life is usually perceived as a balance between good and bad, too much of good or bad can end up detrimental in the end. Vedder’s song focuses on how true love or hope can slip away and never be regained. The singer of the song is tattooed in the black when he loses everything desired. In other words, his world flipped upside down when he lost all that made his life bright. Robert Frost’s poem “Fire and Ice” reflects on the equilibrium of desire and hatred in the world and how it can end the world. Like “Black,” Frost projects on how the world “will end in fire…(or) ice” (1-2). Fire is representative of love, passion, and desire. However, ice is representative of cruelty, loneliness, and death. When one cannot balance life’s good and bad, they tend to ruin their own life. For instance, loving someone too much could lead to issues when one decides to leave the relationship. This is also a clear idea in Vedder’s song as the singer fails to cope with their loss of love. The main theme that life is a struggle to balance and ends in havoc is similar to love not lasting forever. Vedder believes that love will survive with someone else while the cycle can continue for other people. Frost believes that enjoying too much of that love would lead to chaos. A fire can burn, ice can freeze, and finding the in-between is a challenge.

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Within “Black” and “Fire and Ice,” irony is prevalent in expression of the works. While there aren’t necessarily any ironic features based on the lyrics of “Black,” the implications of the theme are considered ironic. This is simply because the singer believes that someone else will have a better relationship with the lost partner. However, one will always lose a partner in the end of a relationship, whether it is death or separation. Frost says that “(ice) would suffice” (10) when compared to having too much fire. Even when life comes to an end because of too much desire, having a life full of coldness and emptiness would have ended the same way. The singer in “Black” believe that someone will be better off than him in the end. Ironically, life will end the same way for the singer according to how Frost views the situation in his poem.

Symbolism for “Black” and “Fire and Ice” lies within the names of the song and poem. Vedder intended “Black” to symbolize the power of darkness in a lack of brightness. Black represents the emptiness that is left behind when a light goes away. Obviously, a romantic partner can bring joy and light into life. Yet, once that relationship takes a turn for worse, the light can easily leave the darkness behind. Black is what is left behind when the joy of brightness leaves from its visit. This brightness may visit someone else’s darkness for a stint of time and repeat the cycle. Clearly, there is an imbalance of light and dark similar with fire and ice. With too much light, there would be too much desire. With too much darkness, there would be too much emptiness. Frost intended for fire to represent “desire… I hold with those who favor fire” (4-5). Frost may feel that fire would end the world unlike Vedder believing that love would save his own world. Moreover, Frost intended for ice to be worthy to hate. Hate and black are similar since they both symbolize darkness and unhappiness. Essentially, symbolism is similar with both the poem and the song because both pieces argue over the power of desire and loneliness.

The beauty of music is that it is poetry in motion of sound. Music can be similar to pieces of poetry in the form of elements or traits. Eddie Vedder’s “Black” and Robert Frost’s “Fire and Ice” consistently share the value of relationships in life. Both forms of art depict this shared idea through their theme, irony, and symbolism. Vedder’s song is focused on how crucial a relationship is to keeping life happy and meaningful. Without light, there is only black darkness. On the other hand, Frost feels that there is no true balance to a relationship. There can only be too much or too little. Rarely is there ever an in-between with balancing life and a relationship. Without the use of poetry or music, multiple outlooks on the idea would be hard to imagine.

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Equilibrium of Love in Robert Frost’s “Fire and Ice” and Pearl Jam’s “Black”: Comparative Analysis. (2022, September 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 2, 2023, from
“Equilibrium of Love in Robert Frost’s “Fire and Ice” and Pearl Jam’s “Black”: Comparative Analysis.” Edubirdie, 27 Sept. 2022,
Equilibrium of Love in Robert Frost’s “Fire and Ice” and Pearl Jam’s “Black”: Comparative Analysis. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 2 Feb. 2023].
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