Nothing Gold Can Stay: Everything Comes to End


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The world and everything in it is constantly changing; seasons change, times change, and people change. In life, there are numerous diverse processes that take place. Within those processes, there is a common factor that they share; they have to face inevitable changes. Nothing in this world is permanent or ineradicable. As time goes by, most oftenly, people do not appreciate what they have because they take it for granted, thinking it will last forever. Robert Frost, in his poem, Nothing Gold Can Stay, utilizes the comparison of nature to gold, the personification of nature, the connotation of the word ‘subsides’, and the allusion of the Garden of Eden, in order to bitterly suggest that nothing lasts forever.

Beginning with a simple statement, Frost proposes that, “Nature’s first green is gold” (Frost, line 1). This statement provides a vivid description for the readers as it shows that the sprouting viridescent leaves with their pale green color casts a gold-like tint when spring arrives. After a gruesome winter, the first sight of green and life that nature produces is during the spring season. Plants begin to sprout, trees begin to grow new leaves, and buds grow into flowers. This new miracle of growth is a beautiful and a priceless sight. Gold is one of the most valuable metals in the world. Since the early days, gold has been considered precious as it is used as a medium of exchange, as well as accessories such as necklaces and earrings. This metal, being so valuable to people allows the readers to comprehend that the beauty of nature’s first green is worth as much as gold. The comparison of nature’s first leaves to gold emphasizes the value and preciousness of the beauty of nature.

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When Frost uses the personification of nature, he gives life to an inanimate “force.” Frosts writes, “Her hardest hue to hold” (Frost, line 3). Referring to nature as “Her” gives a motherly or womanly figure to nature. The “hue” of nature can be perceived as green by the readers as green is the quintessence color of nature. Frost is conveying that the green and lively leaves that spring brings cannot attain the bright color forever. The appearance that spring produces changes, unable to attain or “hold” its colors. Soon, the leaves will wilt and decay. When spring comes, it also goes as spring becomes summer. The beautiful greenish scenery that can be perceived soon starts to become dry and brownish under the summer heat. As summer changes to autumn, the scenery changes to fall colors as the leaves wilt and fall. Then, with a blanket of snow covering the earth, winter comes along. These metamorphoses show that “the joys of summer are brief, and the losses brought about by the fall (both seasonal and theological) are experienced in winter as a kind of spiritual death” (Liebman). Frost shows that even the most beautiful things are not resistant to change. But, readers can also conclude that with change, life can bring other beauties. Just as spring ends, summer, autumn, and winter come along to show their unique features; everything has its own beauties that follows.

Frost then compares leaves to flowers by stating, “Her early leaf’s a flower/ But only so an hour” (Frost, lines 3-4). He compares “Her” leaf to a flower to visually show how beautiful spring and everything it produces is. When trees regrow, they grow buds and leaves that are as beautiful as flowers. Green and lively, they represent a start of a new life. Then, Frost proceeds by stating that spring only blooms and lasts only for an hour. This statement, on the literal level, is untrue since spring cannot be reduce to a measly hour. Frosts uses this hyperbole in order to emphasize that time goes by fast. Time can slip through the hands and beautiful moments can fade in the blink of an eye. This shows his point that things do not stay the way they are forever and that they should not be taken for granted.

Frost states, “Then leaf subsides to leaf” (Frost, line 5). He uses the word “subsides” because it, “apply to the normal growing process, the increasing size, moving towards maturity”(Doyle). He could have used words such as expands, grows, and enlarges, but he chooses the word “subsides” to evoke the connotation that it has. When the readers see the word “subsides” they are allowed to concluded that it is a slow and improved process. This line describes how the first leaves of spring are evolving and maturing. It can be seen that innocence is lost throughout the process of growth. The delicate and youthful qualities of the leaf is lost as it grows and is replaced with new leaves. The cycle repeats and a similar but different process starts anew. As the leaves are maturing and advancing, it can be compared with the life of a human. When one is born, they grow and lose their innocence throughout the process and they become mature and advanced. Through the path of maturation, one experiences life and the soon the experiences comes to an end. Everything that lives eventually dies in the cycle of life. Although this is seen as downfall, there is hope as one’s offsprings flourishes like new leaves that grow after winter. Frost shows that there is beauty and comfort in how the end of something brings another beautiful new start.

Frost alludes to the biblical Garden of Eden to evoke his point that nothing lasts forever. He writes, “So Eden sank to grief” (Frost, line 6). In the Bible, the ever famous story of Adam and Eve can be told. God placed Adam and Eve, the first humans, to nurture the Garden of Eden. The Garden of Eden was an epitome of nature, representing peace and paradise. Humans seemed to have everlasting life but, once the forbidden fruit was eaten, “ the archetype of golden youthfulness and innocence was soon lost before the onslaught of the properties of the tree of knowledge” (Doyle). With the perfect paradise that offered eternal life and happiness, it seemed as though it would last forever. But, with the disobedient actions Adam and Eve took, the punishment of misery that humans know today were placed upon them and their descendants. Humans now have to fend for themselves and survive to be able to live. This downfall of humanity reveals that a paradise such as the Garden of Eden can be lost from the grasp of humankind. Adam and Eve had everything that they needed, but like humans today, they took it for granted and they let it slip away at the palm of their hands. Even though these unfortunate events cannot be altered, readers can conclude that there is hope because where there is an end, there is a beginning. This allusion emphasizes that if something so divine can be lost and shattered, then anything can be lost and nothing is promised or permanent.

In life, all animate and inanimate things meet their end sooner or later. It is an inevitable fate because everything that starts eventually ends, but often times, the cycle repeats and repeats. Humans, even if they are not aware, are always in a constant race against time. Although a situation might be ideal, it can end abruptly. Often things are not appreciated for what they are worth and are only valued when it is gone. Nothing in this world lasts forever. But, when the sun goes down, it comes back up and a new day starts. As leaves and flowers wilt and fall, they regrow to repeat another cycle. When humans perish, they leave a bloodline that multiples and expands. Nicolas Poussin once stated, “We have nothing that is really our own; we hold everything as a loan.”

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