Literary Analysis of the Poem "Nothing Gold Can Stay"

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“Nothing Gold Can Stay” by Robert Frost is a poem about changes in nature and human life. With the help of this poem, Frost explores various aspects of changing nature by examining that even the most beautiful thing of the world also changes with time. 'Nothing Gold Can Stay' covers everything from a small leaf to the cycle of the sun, to the Garden of Eden, in just eight lines ultimately demonstrating that change is only permanent in this world.

The poem is penned in iambic trimeter form by the poet. However, the beginning and the ending of poem is having a trochee form which is antonym of iambic form which suggests the contrast of nature and nothing. The rhyme scheme of the poem is [AABBCCDD]. The first line “Nature's first green is gold,” (Line 1) suggests the setting of the poem that we are in laps of nature. Also, this line reminds of spring season as nature’s first green is spring. “Her hardest hue to hold.” (Line 2) Have alliteration of the letter ‘H’. Also, the couplet ends here with the same rhyme.

The nature is also personified as Frost is describing hardest time of nature as if nature is a human being having easy and hard times. The rhyme scheme changes from beginning of a new couplet in third line when Frost writes “Her early leaf's a flower;” and start to be a typical poet by using metaphor in the line. Actually, in real world the leaves are given space by blooms so that they can get sunlight to blossom. On moving further Frost completes the second couplet and also the structure he built up in the previous line by saying “But only so an hour.” (Line 4).

Actually, by saying this he want to describe that the golden state of leaf remains only for a short period after which they becomes green. According to me it also suggests that childhood also passes very fast and person becomes mature and starts taking responsibilities on own. The beginning of next to couplet describes the falling of leaf to make way for the next leaf. This figurative language in fifth line of the poem according to my interpretation of poem suggests that spring flowers are more beautiful than the leaves in the summer where they appear to be gold as there is huge amount of sun rays falling on them.

In the next line poet uses allusion by saying “So Eden sank to grief,“ (Line 6) which is a biblical reference of the story of Adam and Eve and the act of Eve of eating forbidden fruit and the fall of them and the descendants. This demonstrates tragic that even the first humans were expelled from the Garden of Eden similarly the leaves which were golden will eventually turn down into green leaves. In the beginning of last couplet, Frost demonstrates the daily cycle of sun from dawn to a typical day and then dusk. Thus in the very last line Frost connects to the title “Nothing gold can stay.” (Line 8).

After reading the last couplet another interpretation comes into mind which is that Frost maybe talking about the summer days. The gold in the beginning might be referring to the sunlight of dawn and in the last second line dawn moves into a day. “Nothing Gold Can Stay” by Robert Frost thus demonstrates that a golden leaf will turn into mere green leaves by giving all the imagery in the beginning which further indicates that nothing will remain forever and the only thing which is permanent in this world is change.

Work Cited

  1. FROST, ROBERT. ”Nothing Gold Can Stay.” The New Wascana Anthology: Poetry, Short Fiction, and Critical Prose. Eds. Medrie Purdham and Michael Trussler. Regina: University of Regina Press, 2014. (pp. 96)
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