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Nothing Gold Can Stay

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Robert Frost: “Nothing Gold Can Stay”
Eng125 Introduction to Literature

Nothing Gold Can Stay

Robert Frost once said poetry “begins in delight and ends in wisdom.” His poem “Nothing Gold Can Stay” while short sends a powerful message and presents a unique insight into life’s cycle. Because of its length, Frost ensures that each word or sound is important to conveying his message. Filled with countless literary elements; the use of ambiguity, symbolism, paradox, imagery and metaphor help readers like myself identify with the poem. According to Ferguson (1973), “the poem begins at once in paradox: green is gold . . . leaf’s a flower.” Together, public knowledge, precise observation, and also the implications of ancient associations are brought into conflicting play. The first mark of spring is green, the promise of life; but in New England Frost’s home the willows and maples have a temporary gold color at the beginning of spring. Thus green is a concept or indication of spring; gold is the reality. Gold in this poem is not regarded as a precious metal but as a color. Described by Frost as the “hardest hue to hold” (1923), as fleeting as wealth itself. In the second couplet of the poem, emphasis is again put on paradox; in this case it is leaf and flower. The earliest leaf unfolds in beauty like a flower; but regardless of its appearance, it is a leaf. Although the leaf initially exists in “disguise,” it moves on to its true state as leaf. In case gold shifts to green and flower subsides into leaf, the conditions imply an emotional loss. The hue of gold and its connotation to richness and color cannot be preserved. The flower, subtle and evanescent in its beauty suffers the same fate, therefore we are moved by melancholy when gold changes to green, and flower subsides into leaf.

Ambiguity: “use of language that has more than one meaning, creating uncertainty about how to interpret what has been stated (Clugston, 2010 pg. 425) is...

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