Gold! Poem by Thomas Hood Summary, Notes and Line by Line Explanation in English for Students


The poem “Gold” was written by Thomas Hood.The poem is taken from Hood’s long satirical narrative poem “Miss Kilmansegg and her Precious Leg.” Hood was known for his use of humour. “Miss Kilmansegg and Her Precious Leg” was a satire that used humour to show the follies of humankind. 

About the Poet:

Thomas Hood was an English poet, author and humorist. Hood was the father of the playwright and humorist Tom Hood and the children’s writer Frances Freeling Broderip. Some of his best known poems are The Bridge of Sighs” and “The Song of the Shirt“. Hood wrote regularly for The London Magazine, Athenaeum, and Punch. Later in life he published a magazine largely consisting of his own works. In 1903 William Michael Rossetti called him “the finest English poet” between the generations of Shelley and Tennyson.


The poem “Gold!” by Thomas Hood is a short poem of sixteen lines. Throughout the poem, the poet described the nature of gold and emphasised this metal.


The poet Thomas Hood composed the poem mostly in iambic tetrameter with a few variations. There are trochaic variations in lines 3, 5, and 6. In the 15th lines the poet used iambic pentameter. Except for these pines in the poem, the poet used only iambic tetrameters.

Historical Background:

The poet discussed everything about the metal “Gold” and emphasised it in the poem. At the end of the poem, he even talks about the different regime in the English era. He says the appearance of the gold coins varies with age. He refers to “Bloody Mary,” Queen Mary Tudor (1553-1558), Queen Bess,” that is, Queen Elizabeth I of England (1558-1603), These Queens had their faces stamped on the gold coins during their reign. Thus, he hinted at the volatile nature of gold.

Poem Analysis:

Lines 1-4:

Gold! Gold! Gold! Gold!

Bright and yellow, hard and cold,

Molten, graven, hammer'd and roll'd;

Heavy to get, and light to hold;

The poet is fascinated with metal. So, he describes its nature in the poem. He uses “Gold” four times in the first line to show his interest towards the metal and create emphasis. He says that gold is bright and yellow in colour. It is hard and colourful, so the poet is hinting at the nature of gold. The metal gold is easy to take any shape. Gold can be melted or rolled as per the requirement. The metal is hard to obtain but it is spent easily.

Lines 5-9:

Hoarded, barter'd, bought, and sold,

Stolen, borrow'd, squander'd, doled:

Spurn'd by the young, but hugg'd by the old

To the very verge of the churchyard mould;

Price of many a crime untold;

The poet says that people have hoarded gold and use it for economic exchange. Gold has been stolen and borrowed by people.  The gold was also given for small amounts. een stolen and squandered by people. It has also been given willingly in small amounts and borrowed. The word “doled” means to distribute a share of something.  So, the people gave gold in small shares for charity.The poet says, usually the young people reject gold, but the old realised the importance of gold. The poet ironically said that the old people loved and pursued gold until they died. He says, people have also committed crimes for gold.

Lines 10-16:

Gold! Gold! Gold! Gold:

Good or bad a thousand-fold!

  How widely its agencies vary—

To save—to ruin—to curse—to bless—

As even its minted coins express,

Now stamp'd with the image of Good Queen Bess,

  And now of a Bloody Mary.

The poet repeated the first line of the poem at the beginning of this stanza, to emphasise the metal. The poet says that gold has both a good and bad side and it creates various impacts on people. The power of gold varies according to every situation. It has the power to affect people and their The poet talks about the good and bad nature of gold. The metal has done everything it can. It has ruined and saved lives, cursed and blessed people in equal measures. The poet ends the poem by mentioning how volatile it is, as the faces of Queens stamped on it changed with the stamp of Bloody Mary. The poet’s main aim behind this poem is to discuss the good and bad side of gold and its impact on people.