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"Nothing Gold Can Stay" Poetry Analysis
Transcript of "Nothing Gold Can Stay" Poetry Analysis
Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower,
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
The theme of this poem is that things of life change very quickly.
The first stanza introduces this theme:
"Natures first green is gold" refers to the first shoots and leaves of spring. These symbolize rebirth and new life- which is precious and therefore "gold" (a symbol of something precious and valuable).
"Her hardest hue to hold"
Frost is not speaking literally. He means that the first green stage of growth is the stage that goes by the most quickly, and gives way to maturity quickly.
The color, or hue, doesn't remain the same- in other words, it doesn't "hold." The changing of the color symbolizes how quickly things change.
"Her early leaf's a flower;
but only so and hour"
These two lines reinforce what Frost stated in the title and opening lines: the quick passing of time, the impermanence of the fresh green shoots and leaves of spring. Again, "only an hour" isn't literal; Frost is using a hyperbole to emphasize his point about how quickly time passes.
Frost continues this theme in the second stanza with references to Eden ending sadly
-it sank to grief-
and every day passing quickly
-So dawn goes down to day-and
finally his repetition of the title in the final line
- nothing gold can stay.
This poem reflects life in a number of ways. Few things are permanent; life itself eventually comes to an end. We often try to hold on to something or someone that is precious to us ("gold"), and many times we are not able to keep it. Likewise, relationships between people are constantly changing- relationships go through "seasons."
Frost relies heavily on personification to drive his point through the heart of the reader:
"Nature's first green is gold"
"Her hardest hue to hold"
Her early leaf's a flower"
"So Eden sank to grief"
By treating nature like a person, Frost makes the theme applicable to the reader's life. The reader can relate in a personal way because it seems like another human being is going through a similar experience.
"Nothing Gold Can Stay"
Frost uses the word "hue" instead of "color" in order to form an alliteration, which adds to the musical quality of the poem.
Her hardest hue to hold
repeats the "H" sound. This repetition draws the reader's attention to this line, which is the first time Frost mentions the idea of change.