Nothing Gold Can Stay is a well-known poem by Robert Frost. One of the primary outstanding features of this work is that it took the author only eight lines to express a set of thoughtful philosophical ideas and deep emotions. Apart from the captivating wisdom of the author’s lines expressed with the help of various poetic devices, the poem is mesmerizing due to its perfected rhyme and rhythm.
One of the most noticeable features of Nothing Gold Can Stay is its rhyme. To be more precise, each couple of lines rhymes perfectly: “Nature’s first green is gold,/
Her hardest hue to hold” (1-2). This scheme is also presented as AABB scheme, indicating that the rhyming lines follow one another. This scheme is maintained throughout the course of the poem and never changes its pattern. This feature makes the poem very easy to memorize and learn by heart. According to the opinion of Rea, this type of rhyme divides the poem into four separate parts (par. 6). Besides, the critic adds that the rhyme is strengthened by the irregularities in the poem’s rhythm.
Discussing the rhythm in Nothing Gold Can Stay, Rea points out that the irregular stressing in the syllables is arranged in a way that the second and the second to last lines are in perfect symmetry according to rhythm; moreover – in these two lines the stressed words begin with the same letters: “Her hardest hue to hold” (2) with hardest-hue-hold, and letter H, and “So dawn goes down today” (7) with down-down-day and letter D (par. 9). Overall, the meter in the poem is recognized as iamb that is flawed in the last line that matches the title of the poem. Rea mentions that the irregularity is not the sign of the poet’s attempt to find the right rhythm, but an intended technique that makes the last line stand out, therefore, adding, simultaneously, a climax and a conclusion to the poem (par. 11).
The conclusive character of the last line that summarizes the content of the whole poem and also repeats its title is seen from the analysis of the meaning of each line or couple of lines. The author’s opening line contains a seemingly obvious paradox: “Nature’s first green is gold” (1). This device is placed in the very first line for a purpose to captivate the readers’ attention right away. However, regardless of the seeming inconsistency, the word gold in used metaphorically indicating the value instead of a color. That way, Frost establishes that the first moments of green (or of spring) are precious to an observer. A similar statement is present in the third line “Her early leaf’s a flower” (3) where the poet refers to the speedy process of blossoming and strengthens it in the next line: “But only so an hour” (4), by means of an exaggeration. Saying that a leaf turns into a flower and goes into decay within just one hour, Frost emphasizes how precious the moments of the spring beauty are and how important it is to treat them like gold because they would not stay for long.
To conclude, Nothing Gold Can Stay was rewritten and revised by Frost several times before its current version saw the world (“The Making of Robert Frost’s “Nothing Gold Can Stay”” par. 6). It seems that the poet wanted to structure of the poem to be as brief and clear as possible and thus he perfected it over years. That way, the latest version perfectly reflects the described golden briefness of the natural beauty and the value of perfection that does not last.
Frost, Robert. Nothing Gold can Stay. n. d.
Rea, John A. On “Nothing Gold Can Stay”. 1993.
The Making of Robert Frost’s “Nothing Gold Can Stay”. 2011.