Nothing Gold Can Stay Poem Summary by Robert Frost


‘Nothing Gold Can Stay’ is a poem written by the American poet Robert Frost. It was first published in ‘The Yale Review’. It is a feature piece that shows Robert Frost’s excellence even in shorter poems.

In a short space, Frost has compressed the grand system of human success and failure in life in a biblical way. The poem has 8 lines which are written in the rhyme scheme of AABBCCDD.


Part 1 (Lines 1-4)

The poem begins with a realistic description of nature. Nature’s first green is the first leaves that come out in early spring. They are gold in their appearance. We see them for only a very short time because very soon they become completely green.

That is why Nature’s first green is the hardest hue to hold. It transforms very fast. Its nature is transient. In such an early stage, it looks like a flower due to the kind of color it has. It’s totally unlike the idea of a grown leaf which we have.

Part 2 (Lines 5-8)

Here the poet’s genius is in using the word ‘subside’ so perfectly. Leaf subsides to leaf give us a sense of growth but at the same time, it alters the entire idea. It looks like the early glow is turning into a dull failure.

This is when the poem tells us that this metaphor from nature is actually about the impermanence of human realities. It is referring to the biblical story of Eden. Humanity’s arrival on to the earth is a result of the Fall from Paradise.

It is a cyclical event. The moment something begins, it is also its progression towards its end. Dawn goes down to day and then the day ends. Whatever one holds unto as gold won’t stay so for always.

Nothing gold can stay. It is a phase that transforms into something else. Whether this fact is good or bad, it depends on one’s perception.

Further Study

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