“Nothing Gold Can Stay”-Tone, Theme and Literary Devices

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Nothing Gold Can Stay poem was published as a part of Frost’s collection of poems called New Hampshire. It was written in the year 1923. Frost eventually won a Pulitzer Prize for poetry the following year after its publication. The nothing gold can stay analysis and nothing gold can stay interpretation is here given in detail.


Nothing Gold Can Stay Theme

In “Nothing Gold Can Stay”, the poet Robert Frost talks about the inevitability of change. There is a clear personification of nature. The poet has used an analogy between two natural processes, one found in nature and the other in the lives of human beings, to show how the two correspond to each other and have similar endings. The “leaf” has a central role in the poem. It is through this medium that Frost tries to convey his feelings concerning the idea of the cycle of birth and death and all the changes that occur due to this natural phenomenon.

In this poem, the journey of a single leaf from its infancy to adulthood has been compared to that of human lives on two different levels. Firstly, there is the physical change from outside. This can be discerned in the manner in which the leaf changes its color from gold to green and beyond. Secondly, change also takes place on the inside, mentally and psychologically. The poet gives a clear indication of that when he talks about the Garden of Eden and its correlation to ‘innocence’. The biblical reference of the Garden of Eden, and also of Adam and Eve, broadens the scope of the poem. There could be the subtle allusion to the great Fall of humankind from Grace hidden in these words. So, basically, life starts its cycle with a great amount of purity and beauty. But as the vagaries of time have its effects on it, things evolve from immaturity to maturity. And along the way, a lot of this innocence fades away into oblivion. The withering away of innocence leads to the growth of corruption in the mind. The poet seems to be lamenting the loss of this essence of purity and innocence.

There is the presence of a certain gloom and passivity in the poem Nothing Gold Can Stay. The poet describes beautifully the first flush of youth and vitality that can be discerned at the initial moments of life. That life can be seen in any of the natural phenomena occurring all around us. Frost alludes to natural processes to show his readers the gradual decline of everything conceived, be it something as simple as the gradual discoloration of a leaf or the aging of a human being.

Nothing Gold Can Stay Tone

Frost was forty-eight the time he wrote “Nothing Gold Can Stay”. This was a man who had experienced a lot in his life already, both happy and tragic. This must have compelled him to look for answers to the many mysteries surrounding this great circus we call life. And Frost took the refuge of nature and her many enduring mysteries to look for meaning and truth. The simple life cycle of a leaf, from the budding stage to its demise as it falls on the ground, provides Frost with the knowledge of a cardinal truth. That life is transitory. No power can hold onto it at any cost. The constant cycle of life and death is at the very core of existence. Nothing can escape its grip. What has taken birth, must age with time and finally face death and termination.

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Frost’s attitude is similar to that of a gloomy observer. The subject of his observation happens to be one of the essential truths about life in general, i.e. all good things must come to an end. In dealing with this endearing truth about life, Frost undertakes the role of a passive spectator who gives in to destiny when it comes to his greatest joys and moments. There is a touch of personal grief and loss in the poet’s selection of words and a shade of sorrow and dejection surrounding his method of dealing with the subject matter. Whatever one holds dear the most, time would certainly snatch it away. This grave loss can be experienced by any living being in the natural world. The poet focuses on the leaf to draw our attention towards the gradual withering away of life and vitality from anything which is conceived and is fresh at the beginning. The poem deals with this universal truth about the transience of life. Frost is very realistic and practical in his approach with his subject matter.

Nothing Gold Can Stay literary Analysis  (Literary Devices/ Rhyme Scheme)

Frost has written this poem in the Iambic Trimeter from, which can be defined as a line of six iambic feet (each pair of feet taken as a unit or dipody). The word ‘Iambic’ has come from the term ‘iamb’, that denotes a metrical foot consisting of an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable. Trimeter means that there are three iambs in every single line of the poem. For example, in the following line, the italicised parts denote the iambs.

Her hardest hue to hold

In antiquity, the iambic rhythm was thought to be the nearest to speech and it is the commonest type of foot in all English verse because it fits the prevailing natural pattern of English words and phrases.

The rhyme scheme, in this case, is the ‘aabbccdd’ formula. The rhyme scheme is the abstract pattern of end-rhymes in a stanza, usually notated with lower-case letters: the first line not to rhyme with ‘a’ (and all subsequent lines that rhyme with it) is ‘b’, and so on.

The total of eight lines in the poem can be grouped into four couplets. The couplet is one of the main units in Western Literature and is a form of great antiquity. The couplet in all forms of the meter has proved an extremely adaptable unit: in lines of different lengths; as part of more complex stanza forms; as a conclusion, etc. Although each line is not perfectly iambic, we get to see three stressed beats. This gives the poem a particular rhythm and makes it easy to read and remember.

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