Analysis of "Nothing Gold Can Stay"

Topics: Stanza, World War II, Rhyme scheme Pages: 9 (2767 words) Published: March 6, 2013
Robert Frost's poem, "Nothing Gold Can Stay," although quite short, contains powerful images that provide a unique insight to one of the many cycle's of life. The title of the poem infers that the subject of this poem is something that was once beautiful and pure, but cannot remain so. On the surface, it seems the speaker of the poem is referring to Nature's beauty can never remain. The first couplet "Nature's first green is gold/Her hardest hue to hold" could represent the spring time when nature is alive and vibrant. Plants, trees, and flowers thrive and become something of value to a keen observer. The statement that green is gold almost seems like a contradiction. However, the speaker is not using the word gold in a literal sense, but in a figurative way implying that the beauty of nature is something precious and valuable. Because, of the uncaring and unyielding seasonal changes, that golden green will not endure as it succumbs to the unforgiving elements. The speaker also mentions a flower that only lasts an hour. Again the speaker reiterates the limited time nature has to display its beauty. The poem continues describing leaves that eventually subside comparing them to the fall of Eden, which also was unable to remain "gold." Finally the poem closes with its final couplet "So dawn goes down to day/Nothing gold can stay." The reference to dawn going down to day may be another emphasis on the cyclical process that occurs within nature. The final line of the poem seems strikingly negative and contains no signs of hope. It seems, on the surface, that this poem may simply be an observation of nature's cycle. In the springtime, nature thrives and displays lush images of life and purity. However, it gradually decays leaf by leaf and dies. But, is that all this poem is saying? That the beauty nature offers comes and goes, or did Frost intend another more impllict meaning? I believe Frost uses his vivid description of nature as a metaphor to manifest yet another cycle that occurs within our lives. Frost leaves us a few hints that help us to uncover this other cycle. I think Frost writes this poem to remind us to take advantage of the time we have living. Like nature - we also begin this world green with a unique and innocent freshness which is indeed difficult to hold onto in this day and age. Our youth is but a fraction of our existence comparable to the flower the speaker mentions that only lasts an hour. Frost may be commenting on the splendor of childhood and how it is, in a way, like a flower - fresh, delicate, innocent, yet ephemeral. Frost uses the word "subside" to describe the leaves as if the leaves have given in to some form of external pressure. Furthermore, he compares this caving in to Eve's failure to resist temptation at the Garden of Eden. Perhaps Frost intends for us to realize that it is an eventual certainty that we will also subside as the leaves do each season by yielding to the temptations that surround us. Therefore this poem may indicate that it is part of the cycle of life that we will lose our innocence just as nature is not able to remain green forever. The ending of the poem serves to emphasize the certainty of the cycle, but it also may contain a glimpse of hope. Because nature repeats it's cycle every year, is Frost inferring that humans can as well? Can we allow our dawn, or sin, go down and begin a new day? Maybe we cannot return to our childhood and return to that "first green," but maybe we can create our own new beginnings and attempt to make our lives "golden." If we are able to continue this cycle, it seems that it is a certainty that we will falter, because "nothing gold can stay" and the cycle will continue.


Thomas Hardy's poem 'The Man He Killed' focusses on the senselessness and futility of war, where a man has killed another quite simply because they were fighting on opposing sides in a war. Written in the first person from the...
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