Nothing Gold Can Stay Poem Analysis by Robert Frost

Nothing Gold Can Stay is one of the most anthologized poems written by Robert Frost. Its apparent simplicity but the depth of expression makes it a great poem. It has eight lines which are divided into four rhyming couplets. The poem’s brevity has a compact vision that connects the image of Nature to the nature of human life.

For us, Gold is very precious. We prize it above everything. The title tells us outrightly that nothing gold can stay. Everything changes. Even the best of everything slowly becomes something else. The period in which we enjoy something is very brief in comparison to the length of life which we have. Nothing is permanent.

When the spring arrives, the fresh leaves come out which are gold in color. The brief period for which they remain gold is the metaphor in the poem for the temporary nature of beauty in human life. The poem’s second line tells us this fact in a wonderful alliteration of the hardest hue to hold.

The poem begins with a description of how leaves grow in nature but then swiftly in a trademark Frostian way, it reveals “the history of human failure and suffering.” American philosophers like Thoreau and Emerson have perceived nature in the same way. Similarly, Frost also sees with the same depth in such a way that even the light imagery of leaf’s simple growth becomes a vehicle loaded with a deeper truth.

The poem’s rhyming and imagery are carefully and precisely balanced in such a way that both words and their sounds create the intended effect of human tragedy. The poem mentions Eden.

The idea of Biblical Eden can be perceived in so many ways. Humanity was brought down into this earth from paradise after disobeying God’s command but at the same time, it also gained knowledge and self-consciousness.

Changes happen for a good reason. The poem gives us a hard-hitting fact that everything is transient so we shouldn’t hold unto something with an expectation that it won’t change ever.

By the end of the poem, the inevitable decline of all things is clear. Knowing that nothing lasts, can we still indulge in the effort to create. Here, the reality is cyclical. The dawn becomes a day and then it ends.

The word dawn makes it clear that there will be another dawn for the next day. We must check our expectations and accept the transient reality so that while facing the inevitable, we don’t suffer so ignorantly.

Further Study

  1. Read summary of this poem
  2. Here are important questions and answers to this poem