Fire and Ice


                                              — image from Wikimedia Commons

I have always had a passion for learning and the curiosity to match. It’s amazing how little I know about English poetry so this summer I have started on a self-improvement kick, studying one famous poem each month. This month I have chosen “Opal” by poet Amy Lowell:


You are ice and fire,

The touch of you burns my hands like snow.

You are cold and flame.

You are the crimson of amaryllis,

The silver of moon-touched begonias.

When I am with you,

My heart is a frozen pond

Gleaming with agitated torches.

It’s obvious by the end of this poem that Lowell is talking about more than an opal, she’s writing about love and desire. Her vivid visual images work in opposites–cold and flame, fire and ice, a frozen pond and burning torches. Fire and ice are a simple but powerful contrast and opal, a gemstone with rainbowlike inclusions, fits the poet’s purpose exactly. The frozen pond gleaming with torches evokes the thought of a frozen heart warmed and melted by the lover’s presence and his touch.

A good poem vibrates long after the verses have been read and admired. How much of fire and ice were there in my past relationships? Could there have been more? I wonder what I would want if ever I had another love relationship, and whether my significant other would feel the same.

What poem will I choose next month? I haven’t decided, but you know what? I am really ignorant about famous painters. If I can read a poem a month, surely I could study one painting a month too, or maybe take up a second language, or learn the clarinet…what do you mean it’s time to go to work? I don’t have time to go to work! There’s too much cool stuff waiting for me to learn…

About Julia French

Writer of contemporary horror fiction.
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1 Response to Fire and Ice

  1. Betty Clay says:

    This is not an message about any particular piece you’ve written or will write. I saw an announcement of sorts on facebook about a poet named Nir Manor, a.k.a. NirThePsychicPoet, who is in search of a woman who used a username of the same name (Fire*N*ice) as this poem in a chat more than 20 years ago. He apparently produced a book from her inspiration and is trying to locate this muse to show his gratitude. If it is not you, sorry to bother, I used a search engine made to find instances of the username because that is all he has to go off of besides the fact that her first name was ‘Julia’. Thank You for your time.


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