Make your own free website on
Religion 200: Religion and the Human Exerience
Symbols of FIRE in Literature

"Fire is the most tolerable third party"

~Henry David Thoreau


Home | FIRE as a symbol in Religion | Symbols of FIRE in Literature | Symbols of FIRE in Art | Symbols of FIRE in Rituals | Symbols of FIRE in Life

Below are poems showing fire being used as a symbol through literature...

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 favour 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.

In Robert Frost's poem, he compares two very destructive forces: fire and ice. Frost presents two ways for the world to end: either fire or ice. He relates fire to desire; which can be taken as a desire to consume or destroy a certain thing. He later compares ice to hate, and as readers we see ice as being rigid, unmoving and very cold, which are all unplesant. Frost goes on saying that both fire and ice are massive forces that are equally great. Fire, or passion, consumes and destroys very quickly, leaving only ashes behind. Ice on the other hand represents hatred and it destroys more slowly.

"Fire was at work in early wars in which nations desired more money and territory. It may be fitting then that Frost said the second destruction would be brought about by ice. Fire destroyed Europe in the World Wars, but was rebuilt and then destroyed by ice. Care must be taken, evidently, to keep the world at room temperature".

"The Leader to Be"
He who leads
Must then be strong and hopeful as the dawn
That rises unafraid and full of joy
Above the blackness of the darkest night.
He must be kind to every living thing;
Kind as the Krishna, Buddha and the Christ,
And full of love for all created life.
Oh, not in war shall his great prowess lie,
Nor shall he find his pleasure in the chase.
Too great for slaughter, friend of man and beast,
Touching the borders of the Unseen Realms
And bringing down to earth their mystic fires
To light our troubled pathways, wise and kind
And human to the core, so shall he be,
The coming leader of the coming time.
~ Ella Wheeler Wilcox


As Kingfishers Catch Fire, Dragonflies Draw Flame
By: Gerard Manly Hopkins

As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bells
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying What I do is me: for that I came.
I say more: the just man justices;
Keeps grace: that keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in Gods eye what in Gods eye he is;
Christ, for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of mens faces.

The following types of Literature have fire being represented; and playing a large role in the story,
poem or play.

- Lord of the Flies
- The Scarlet Letter
- Death of a Salesman
- The Oddyssey
- Philosophers such as Phaedo and Descartes describe "fire"
and many more!

Kate O'Looney
Religion 200-01
Professor Schearing

Gonzaga University
Summer Session #2