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Nothing Gold Can Stay (poem)

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Nothing Gold Can Stay
by Robert Frost
First published inThe Yale Review
CountryUnited States
Subject(s)Transience, impermanence, beauty, nature, change
FormLyric poem
Meteriambic trimeter
Rhyme schemeAABBCCDD
Publication dateOctober 1923
Full text
New Hampshire (Frost)/Nothing Gold Can Stay at Wikisource
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.

Reading of "Nothing Gold Can Stay"

"Nothing Gold Can Stay" is a short poem written by Robert Frost in 1923 and published in The Yale Review in October of that year.

It was later published in the collection New Hampshire (1923),[1] which earned Frost the 1924 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. The poem lapsed into public domain in 2019.[2] New Hampshire also included Frost's poems "Fire and Ice" and "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening".


The poem is written in the form of a lyric poem,[3] with an iambic trimeter meter and AABBCCDD rhyme scheme.[4]


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."[5]

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.[5]

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."[5]

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."[5]

Musical adaptations[edit]

  • "Nothing Gold Can Stay" by American composer William Thayer Ames,[6] a choral setting of the poem.
  • "Nothing Gold Can Stay" by American composer Cecil William Bentz,[7] a choral setting of the poem in his opus, "Two Short Poems by Robert Frost."
  • "Nothing Gold Can Stay"[8] by American composer Steven Bryant,[9] an instrumental chorale inspired by the poem.
  • "Nothing Gold Can Stay"[10] by American composer Stephen DeCesare,[11] a chorale set to the poem's lyrics.
  • "Nothing Gold"[12] by American composer Alva Henderson,[13] a solo for baritone accompanied by piano.
  • "Nothing Gold Can Stay"[14] by American composer Timothy P. Cooper,[15] a choral setting of the poem.
  • "Nothing Gold Can Stay"[16] by American composer Christopher Kalstad,[17] a choral setting of the poem
  • "Nothing Gold Can Stay"[18] by Canadian composer Kenley Kristofferson,[19] a choral setting of the poem.
  • "Nothing Gold Can Stay" by Canadian composer Nick Peros,[20] a vocalist setting of the poem.
  • "Nothing Gold Can Stay"[21] by American composer Lelia Molthrop Sadlier,[22] a choral setting of the poem.
  • "Nothing Gold Can Stay" by American composer Rick Sowash,[23] a choral setting of the poem.
  • "Nothing Gold Can Stay" by American composer Pasquale J. Spino,[24] a vocalist setting of the poem.
  • "Nothing Gold Can Stay"[25] by American composer Ross Thomason, a choral setting of the poem.
  • "Nothing Gold Can Stay"[26] by American composer Matthew Weisher,[27] a choral setting of the poem.
  • "Nothing Gold Can Stay" by Dutch composer Annemieke Lustenhouwer, a mixed 4-part choral setting of the poem.

In popular culture[edit]

  • The poem is featured in 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 a stanza from the poem back to Ponyboy by means of a letter read after he passes away.
  • 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.[28]
  • A Garfield comic strip published on October 20, 2002, featured the titular character reciting this poem,[29] This was replaced in book collections and on-line edition.[30] This was likely because the poem was under copyright at the time the cartoon was published (the poem lapsed into public domain in 2019).[2]
  • Two 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 title and part of the poem is featured in the book The Fault in Our Stars by John Green by Hazel after her boyfriend Augustus dies.
  • In The Simpsons episode "Lisa's Belly," Bart says, "So dawn bros down to day. Nothing swole can stay."
  • The poem is an inspiration for First Aid Kit's 2014 album, Stay Gold, and the song from the album with the same title.[31]
  • The song "Daydreamer" from Young the Giant's 2014 album "Mind over Matter" references the poem with the lyrics "When nothing in gold can stay."
  • In the movie Point of No Return (1993), the tutor of Nina starts to teach her how to practice common manners by quote: ""Nature's first green is gold" means? It means that the first is best...that youth is better than old age."
  • "Nothing Gold Can Stay" is the title and theme of the 10th episode of The Mentalist, Season 7.
  • The song "Music to Watch Boys To" from Lana Del Rey's 2015 album Honeymoon references the poem with the lyrics "Nothing gold can stay, like love and lemonade." Del Rey again uses the lyric "Nothing gold can stay" in her song "Venice Bitch" from the 2018 album Norman Fucking Rockwell.[32]


  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. February 2019. Retrieved 26 November 2019.
  3. ^ Huyssteen, Justin van (2023-11-29). "'Nothing Gold Can Stay' by Robert Frost Analysis - A Closer Look". Art in Context. Retrieved 2023-12-02.
  4. ^ "Nothing Gold Can Stay". Encyclopedia.com. Retrieved 2023-12-02.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ "William Thayer Ames (1901 - 1987) - Vocal Texts and Translations at the LiederNet Archive". www.lieder.net. Retrieved 2021-05-07.
  7. ^ "ccm :: Bentz, Cecil Bentz, Cecil William Bentz". composers-classical-music.com. Retrieved 2021-05-07.
  8. ^ "Nothing Gold Can Stay". Steven Bryant. Retrieved 2021-05-07.
  9. ^ "Biography". Steven Bryant. Retrieved 2021-05-07.
  10. ^ DeCesare, Stephen. "Nothing Gold Can Stay By Stephen DeCesare - Digital Sheet Music For Sheet Music Single - Download & Print S0.59427 | Sheet Music Plus". www.sheetmusicplus.com. Retrieved 2021-05-07.
  11. ^ "Stephen DeCesare". www.voxnovus.com. Retrieved 2021-05-07.
  12. ^ "A Seasonal Songbook, for voice &… | Recording Details and Tracks". AllMusic. Retrieved 2021-05-07.
  13. ^ "Henderson". Song of America. Retrieved 2021-05-07.
  14. ^ Nothing Gold Can Stay (SATB) - Timothy P. Cooper, archived from the original on 2021-12-21, retrieved 2021-05-07
  15. ^ "Bio". Timothy P. Cooper. 2020-11-26. Retrieved 2021-05-07.
  16. ^ "Nothing Gold Can Stay (SAB ) by Christopher | J.W. Pepper Sheet Music". www.jwpepper.com. Retrieved 2021-05-07.
  17. ^ "Biography". christopher-kalstad. Retrieved 2021-05-07.
  18. ^ Nothing Gold Can Stay, archived from the original on 2021-12-21, retrieved 2021-05-07
  19. ^ Kristofferson, Kenley. "Kenley Kristofferson". Kenley Kristofferson. Retrieved 2021-05-07.
  20. ^ "About – Nick Peros". Retrieved 2021-05-07.
  21. ^ "Biography". Lelia Molthrop Sadlier: Composer/Pianist. Retrieved 2021-05-07.
  22. ^ "Biography". Lelia Molthrop Sadlier: Composer/Pianist. Retrieved 2021-05-07.
  23. ^ "Rick Sowash | Composer & Author". www.sowash.com. Retrieved 2021-05-07.
  24. ^ PASQUALEJSPINO.COM. "www.pasqualejspino.com 41 Robina St. Pt. Charlotte, FL 33954". PASQUALE J. SPINO Music Publications. Retrieved 2021-05-07.
  25. ^ Nothing Gold Can Stay (The Hastings College Choir), archived from the original on 2021-12-21, retrieved 2021-05-07
  26. ^ Matthew Weisher: Nothing Gold Can Stay - CCSU University Singers, archived from the original on 2021-12-21, retrieved 2021-05-07
  27. ^ "Matt Weisher". IMDb. Retrieved 2021-05-07.
  28. ^ "MUSIC | New Found Glory". www.newfoundglory.com. Archived from the original on 2016-07-29. Retrieved 2016-08-03.
  29. ^ "No. 2799: Original, Original Strip". mezzacotta. Retrieved 26 November 2019.
  30. ^ "Garfield by Jim Davis for October 20, 2002". GoComics.
  31. ^ Deusner, Stephen M. (2014-06-12). "First Aid Kit: Stay Gold". Pitchfork. Retrieved 2023-12-02.
  32. ^ "Lana Del Rey". Genius. 2018-09-18. Retrieved 2023-12-02.