Nothing Gold Can Stay (poem)

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Nothing Gold Can Stay 
by Robert Frost
First published inYale Review
Publication dateOctober 1923 (1923-10)
Nothing Gold Can Stay

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.

"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),[1] which 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 lapsed into public domain in 2019.[2]


Alfred R. Ferguson wrote of the poem, "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."[3]

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.[3]

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."[3]

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."[3]

In popular culture[edit]

The poem is featured in both the 1967 novel The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton and the 1983 film adaptation, first recited aloud by the character Ponyboy to his friend Johnny. In a subsequent scene Johnny quotes a stanza from the poem back to Ponyboy by means of a letter which was read after he passes away.

The poem is quoted in issue 19 of Terry Moore's comic series, Strangers in Paradise (1998).[citation needed]

Nothing Gold Can Stay is the name of the debut studio album by American pop-punk band New Found Glory, released on October 19, 1999.[4]

A Garfield comic strip published in October 20, 2002 originally featured the titular character reciting this poem,[5] but this was replaced in book collections and online edition.[6] This was likely due to the poem being still under copyright when the comic ran (the poem has since lapsed into public domain, in 2019).[2]

Two different Japanese manga take their titles from the poem: "Don't Stay Gold" (a prequel to Saezuru Tori wa Habatakanai) by Yoneda Kou (drap, May 2008), and "Stay Gold" by hideyoshico (ongoing in Gateau magazine; first volume Shodensha, 2012).[citation needed]

The poem is referenced by the character of Leslie Knope in Season 6 Episode 7 of the series Parks and Recreation, called "Recall Vote", which first aired in 2013.

The poem is referenced in First Aid Kit's 2014 album Stay Gold: "But just as the moon it shall stray/So dawn goes down today/No gold can stay/No gold can stay."[7]

"Nothing Gold Can Stay" is the title given to the tenth episode of the seventh season of The Mentalist (first aired February 4, 2015) in which the character of Michelle Vega is killed.

The line "Nothing gold can stay" is featured in American poet Lana Del Rey's "Venice Bitch" single, released in 2018.[8] Del Rey also previously used this line in her 2015 single "Music to Watch Boys To".[9]


  1. ^ "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
  2. ^ a b "Robert Frost – 5 Poems from NEW HAMPSHIRE (Newly released to the Public Domain)". Englewood Review of Books. Retrieved 26 November 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d "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.
  4. ^ "MUSIC | New Found Glory". Retrieved 2016-08-03.
  5. ^ "No. 2799: Original, Original Strip". mezzacotta. Retrieved 26 November 2019.
  6. ^ "Daily Comic Strip on October 20th, 2002".
  7. ^ Stephen M. Deusner (2014-06-12). "First Aid Kit: Stay Gold Album Review". Pitchfork. Retrieved 2016-10-06.
  8. ^ "Lana Del Rey – Venice Bitch Lyrics | Genius Lyrics". Retrieved 2019-12-29.
  9. ^ "Lana Del Rey – Music To Watch Boys To Lyrics | Genius Lyrics". Retrieved 2020-01-01.