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.
And here is the sample essay. Remember as you read this essay that it is offered to you as an example of the five-paragraph format "that never lets you down." Look for the thesis reflected in the title. Look for the motivator, the plan, the thesis sentence. Look for the author's point in the essay. Ask yourself if the author of the essay has convinced you that his ideas about the poem are sensible and correct and based on the actual words of the poem:
Robert Frost's "Nothing Gold Can Stay": A Sad Farewell to Golden Ages
There is much more to Frost's "Nothing Gold Can Stay" than some leaves and flowers. Once a reader comes to grips with the general sense of the poem, the connotations of words such as "green" and "gold,"and the significance of the allusion to Eden, that reader will realize that Frost's little poem is a classic restatement of the old theme: as sad as it may be, nothing really good and valuable lasts forever.
The general sense of the poem is fairly obvious. A fair paraphrase of the poem runs like this: Nature's beginnings (spring, new birth, youth, and so forth) are as valuable as gold, but those beginnings are almost always over too quickly. As Frost puts it, more or less, gold is too hard a hue to hold for long. Frost then gives a few specific examples. Nature's "early leaf's a flower," i.e., a newly opening leaf is almost as delicate and beautiful as a flower, but it doesn't stay that way long. It soon goes the way of all leaves, of Eden, and of all new beginnings. "Nothing gold can stay" for long; sadly, all good things pass away too soon. In fact, by the time one is mature enough to appreciate what this poem is saying, what Dylan Thomas once called the "green and golden" time of childhood is always in the distant past.
Obviously, much of a reader's sense of what the poem is getting at can be derived from the connotations of the words "green" and "gold." In addition to its literal reference to the color green, the word "green" suggests newness, youth, freshness, and new beginnings. Also, the word "gold" suggests at least two things: gold is symbolic of great value and it is also suggestive of the Golden Age stories from mythology. Golden Ages were those times in mythology when everything was wonderful, but in all the mythologies Golden Ages are in the past and long gone.
Most important, however, in grasping the meaning of this poem is the allusion to the Garden of Eden. When he says "Eden sank to grief," he is linking his observation to the moral, philosophical, and spiritual spheres. If Eden came to grief in the same way that dawn gives way to day, that is, in the same way that the magnificent gives way to the ordinary and in the same way that the innocence of childhood gives way to maturity, then we can only sigh a wistful sigh and say "Nothing gold can stay." In other words, there may have been a Golden Age of Perfection once upon a time, but it has long ago retreated into the realm of the ordinary.
The general sense of the poem, the connotations of words, the significance of the allusions to Eden and the Golden Ages -- all of these enrich the poem. And even though the poem does not bring us some great new insight (we always knew that youth and beauty would pass away), the insight is clothed in new garments. Frost's simple poem brings the old truth to life in a fresh and striking way.
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