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Literary Analysis : Robert Frost's "Nothing Gold Can Stay"

Updated on January 29, 2013

Robert Frost's "Nothing Gold Can Stay" was first published in 1923 in the Yale Review. It was also published in the anthology New Hampshire that fetched Robert Frost the 1924 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.This analysis aims at explaining the metaphorical meaning of the poem.

The poet asserts that Nature's first green is 'gold'. The first sign of greenery from a plant offers the greatest joy to us, especially to the one who planted it. This first instance is equivalent to 'gold.' It is as priceless as the most invaluable metal in terms of commercial opulence. It may also allude to the first appearance of the leaf at dawn that is colored with the golden sunshine. Critics also point out to connotations of the willow being gold in colour and not green

Green' is also a sign of fertility and prosperity. As with people, the first-born child gives one the greatest bliss that nothing can match. This first sign of 'green' is also emblematic of youth. This is why the poet asserts in the succeeding stanza that it is the "hardest hue to hold." For, youth is the hardest aspect to hold or maintain. Youth has also been referred to as one's golden days.The brevity of life is a key concept in poems with the 'carpe diem' motif. It is stated in the Holy Quran that God has endowed the earthlings with a cure for all ailments except old age.

The poet first describes the value of the first sign of life in terms of 'gold. Secondly, in terms of fruition. Robert Frost claims that it attributes one with as happiness as the first flower does .But even this pleasure seem to last only for an hour. For one never comprehends how soon youth reaches its prime. The poet then emphasizes the process of procreation continuing with the metaphor, as "leaf subsides to leaf."

Robert Frost underlines how aging or mortality is a prerequisite for the emerging of new generations. It points to the inevitability of Change.The fortunate fall of Eden was also a precursor to the emergence of generations. This transitory nature of the stage of gold is perceived as mandatory for the cycle of life. This cyclical nature of life is emphasized by the words "leaf subsides to leaf." This is precisely why :" Nothing gold can stay."

In 1953, Alfred R. Ferguson stated "perhaps no single poem more fully embodies the ambiguous balance between paradisiac good and the paradoxically more fruitful human good than "Nothing Gold Can Stay," a poem in which the metaphors of Eden and the Fall cohere with the idea offelix culpa.*


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    • rukhaya m-k profile image

      Rukhaya MK 4 years ago

      Thank you.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 4 years ago from USA

      You have a lovely way with words yourself in explaining Frost's meaning.

    • rukhaya m-k profile image

      Rukhaya MK 5 years ago

      Thank you...

    • whonunuwho profile image

      whonunuwho 5 years ago from United States

      A beautiful poem by Frost and he is one of my favorite all time poets. Nice selection and hub.