Nothing Gold Can Stay (poem)
|by Robert Frost|
|First published in||Yale Review|
|Publication date||October 1923|
"Nothing Gold Can Stay" is a poem by Robert Frost, written in 1923, and published in the Yale Review in October of that year. It was later published in the collection New Hampshire (1923; copyright renewed 1951) that earned Frost the 1924 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. New Hampshire also included Frost's poems "Fire and Ice" and "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening."
The poem reads:
Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
In 1953, Alfred R. Ferguson wrote "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 of felix culpa."
Six years later, John A. Rea, wrote about the poem's "alliterative symmetry", citing as examples the second line's "hardest - hue - hold" and the seventh's "dawn - down - day"; he also points out how the "stressed vowel nuclei also contribute strongly to the structure of the poem" since the back round diphthongs bind the lines of the poem's first quatrain together while the front rising diphthongs do the same for the last four lines.
In 1984, William H. Pritchard called the poem's "perfectly limpid, toneless assertion" an example of Frost demonstrating how "his excellence extended also to the shortest of figures", and fitting Frost's "later definition of poetry as a momentary stay against confusion."
In 1993, George F. Bagby wrote the poem "projects a fairly comprehensive vision of experience" in a typical but "extraordinarily compressed" example of synecdoche that "moves from a detail of vegetable growth to the history of human failure and suffering."
In popular culture
The poem is featured in both the 1967 novel The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton and the 1983 film adaptation, recited aloud by the character Ponyboy to his friend Johnny. In a subsequent scene Johnny quotes the poem back to Ponyboy through a letter right after he dies.
- "New Hampshire". Stanford's Copyright Renewal Database. Stanford University. Retrieved 2010-03-17. "Registration Date: 15Nov23, Renewal Date: 20Sep51, Registration Number: A759931, Renewal Id: R83504"
- "On "Nothing Gold Can Stay"". Online Journal and Multimedia Companion to Anthology of Modern American Poetry. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 2000. Retrieved 2010-03-17.