Are the dying fire and the logs of wood symbolic in the poem The Cold Within by James Patrick Kinney?
The dying fire and logs of wood in the poem might be seen as symbolic and hence significant elements. The poet has depicted the discrimination among people based on their caste, class, religion, colour, economic and social conditions. This discrimination is described as the lack of warm human spirit — the cold within their hearts in the very last line of the poem.
So, it would be reasonable to say that the dying fire indicates decreasing human spirit in us. And the logs of wood may symbolize “a man’s property or wealth” including his intellect and genius. People can help others with those physical and intellectual capacity they have. But if they persist in discriminating on grounds of race, religion, caste, gender and ethnicity, they are all lost. This is the message the poet conveys.
The logs of wood are needed to keep the fire from dying. However metaphorically it can be assumed that the poet probably compares the fire with the warmth and compassion within ourselves. All that the people needed was a log of wood to keep this compassion alive. Ultimately they do not give the log and die by “the cold within”.
Yes the dying fire is symbolic of dying warmth and compassion in the world and the log is symbolic of resources of the world which we can contribute to make world a better place.
Literally, it means that the fire is dying and it needs to be kept alive with the use of a log.
Metaphorically, it can be understood as the dying fire of compassion in their hearts. To keep it burning they need a log of wood but they don’t use it.