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I'm trying to grasp the specific meaning of this poem. I get the sentiment, but have a hard time grasping that for destruction ice in this context. The author knows enough of hate to make a statement about something that is also great, but what is that statement really? What is referenced?

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 perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

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    Consider the sentence For destruction ice is also great. That's the tensed clause introduced by that. The sequence "that for" doesn't mean anything; it's not a constituent. That introduces the subordinate clause, and for introduces the prepositional phrase for destruction, and they both occur at the beginning of the clause, in that order. That's all. Commented Aug 5, 2018 at 23:39

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Let's take it out of the poem's format to analyse it:

I think I know enough of hate to say that for destruction ice is also great.

We can replace for with to cause:

I think I know enough of hate to say that to cause destruction, ice is also great.

Adding a comma after destruction helps understand the grammar. So now we can analyse to cause destruction, ice is also great as:

Ice is also a great method of (causing) destruction.

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  • Aha, the meter made it hard to parse for me. I'm not native in english... Commented Aug 6, 2018 at 7:21

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