My Love Is Like To Ice, And I To Fire: The sonnet “My Love is like to ice ad I to Fire” is one of the very famous sonnets belonging to “Amoretti”, the literary work of Edmund Spenser. It is believed to be written as a part of courtship for his beloved second wife, Elizabeth Boyle.
It is a sonnet with 14 verses that are made up of three quatrains, and there is also a final couplet. The rhyme scheme depicted in the poem is ababbcbccdcdee. The poem’s vocabulary is rich and expressive.
Following the habits of Spenser, the sonnet has an iambic pentameter composition or irregular meter composition. This means that each of the lines in the sonnet has five sets of two eats each.
Students can also check the English Summary to revise with them during exam preparation.
This sonnet depicts a question at the end of each of the stanzas, wondering about the inherent contradictions between “Fire” and “Ice”. He also provides the possible answer to the questions in the final couplet.
The main idea or the sonnet’s central theme is from the perspective of a metaphor and its consequent interpretation. The metaphor lies in comparing the poet’s loving heart as “fire” and his lover’s not-so-loving heart as cold or “ice”.
He makes the concept well understood that love has the ability to change the way a person thinks or his logical order. This is so because the fire could not make the ice melt, nor the ice was able to calm the fire. They were opposite each other.
Symbolism is obvious throughout the poem. The symbolism exists with due respect to human feelings, sentiments and emotions. There is the personification of his love, which makes it easy for the readers to understand.
Summary of the Poem My Love Is Like To Ice, And I To Fire
The sonnet occurs in an imaginary place, which is the lover’s or the poet’s mind. The poet draws a vivid comparison to what happens when someone is in love, with the contradictions between fire and ice. The poem depicts the passion between the two lovers and the underlying contrast between them.
The terms’ fire’ and ‘ice’ depict the passion of love and the distance between the lovers, respectively. The idea of the poem consists of a double metaphor. It dwells into wonder how ice, which often turns into the water quickly when exposed to fire, is hardened and turned icier by lover’s fire.
The poem’s second metaphor is that fire can be easily put out by water or melted ice. But in the lover’s case, his fiery love is made to blaze further by the unloving heart or the icy heart of his beloved.
The lover complains that the person he loves does not return his love. His beloved does not warm up to him and rejects him. She gets more and more unloving as well as unyielding.
He further complains that his beloved’s icy nature cannot cool his love, but it continues to strengthen. The paradoxical nature of fire and ice is resolved in the poem’s last lines by stating that this is the actual power of love, which has the powers to even turn around the laws of nature.
Analysis of the Poem My Love Is Like To Ice, And I To Fire
Lines 1 – 4
“My Love is like to ice, and I to fire:
How comes it then that this her cold so great
Is not dissolved through my so hot desire,
But harder grows the more I her entreat?”
In the first line of the poem, the poet conveys his message to the readers that he considers his love as fiery while his beloved’s love is comparable to ice. The next three lines depict the contrasting nature of their love. The poet asks how his lover’s cold heart cannot be won over by the poet’s “so hot desire”.
The poet establishes that the love shared between them does not behave exactly like fire and ice, and instead of dissolving away, he asks, how is it that their love continues to become stronger. However, his question is rhetorical, and the poet does not expect any answer.
Lines 5 – 8
“Or how comes it that my exceeding heat
Is not allayed by her heart-frozen cold,
But that I burn much more in boiling sweat,
And feel my flames augmented manifold?”
In these lines, the poet continues his comparison. He asks how is it possible that the “exceeding heat” of the poet’s love is not affected by his beloved’s “heart-frozen cold”. He asks how his own fire fails to destroy the love between them.
In these lines, his depiction of their love as fire and ice seems like a personification of their own identities. The poet is confused, as he expected that the coldness would surely turn him away, but it had the opposite effect in reality. He wants to know how is it that the “flames” of his love continues to grow.
Lines 9 – 12
“What more miraculous thing may be told,
That fire, which all things melts, should harden ice,
And ice, which is congeal’d with senseless cold,
Should kindle fire by wonderful device?”
In these lines, the poet establishes his belief that their love is unusual and ‘miraculous’. He also explains to his readers why he considers his love for his beloved to be original and why the readers should care about it.
He explains that by nature, ice is solid. It has rock-solid nature, yet fire melts away it very easily. However, his fiery love has failed to melt the ice-cold love and instead hardened it more. Similarly, ice or melted water can easily put away fire. But, the icy nature of his beloved has ‘kindled’ his fiery love further.
These changes have converted them into better humans. Yet, somehow the poet feels hopelessness and feels that his effort towards his beloved, apart from being futile, makes her more insensitive towards him.
Lines 13 – 14
“Such is the power of love in gentle mind,
That it can alter all the course of kind.”
This is the final couplet of the sonnet and has concluded it. These final lines have brought about the necessary answers to the poet’s questions that have been asked throughout the poem.
The poet here concludes by saying that love has extreme power. It has the power to change the laws of nature. The existence of love in a ‘gentle mind’ can alter the life of many.
A very similar thing has happened in the case of the poet and his beloved. In their story, the fiery love and the ice-cold heart, instead of putting away each other, have altered the course of nature and has continued to be stronger.