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.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Robert Frost's poem Nothing Gold Can Stay


  1. diya says:

    This poem is great:)but confusing

  2. lauren says:

    i love how simply the poem states that nothing can remain great, or at least the same forever.

  3. lauren johnston says:

    I am reading this in my 7th grade language arts class right now. The book it has to do with is the Outsiders. The book is absolutely amazing, i would recommend it for anybody 7 and up

  4. James Randall grade 11 says:

    one of the truest poems i have ever read

  5. Frank P Mora says:

    Frost observes a dawn and writes about the experience. That is what poets do. Write what they know or experience. “Nature’s first” is the morning’s early and special light. It has the astonishing effect of turning the first green leaf it touches gold. Look out at dawn and see.

    Almost immediately though he is thinking about the end of marvelous event with “Her hardest hue to hold.” The dawn and it’s, uh, Her chromatic magic is only temporary. Understand that this is not some deep seated commentary on transitory nature but instead the inability of the poet to focus and enjoy fully what is before him. His mind uncontrollably jumps forward to the end. It is quite humorous.

    There are two positive and six negative lines in the poem. Each positive line, the first and third, are coupled with a negative. The negatives take two forms. The first is preoccupation with the end of the dawn’s special light and wonderful effects and the second, expressing and proving his value system negatively. How does her prove the value of something negatively? One method is to show that if one object of two is proved incredibly bad, it somehow raises the other to the highest level of good. Is this poetic license? I don’t think so but it is funny as hell.

    The last positive line is “Her early leaf’s a flower;”. The leaf is magically turned shimmering gold by the dawn’s early light. With a tinge of imagination, it is now an enchanting flower. This positive line is, of course, coupled with a negative of the first form with “But only so an hour.” Again he reminds us of the end. The marvel of the dawn and it early, transformational light does indeed last one hour. Is that what we or he should be thinking about though?

    No, we are not allowed to enjoy the incredible and enchanting effects of the early light. We, instead, are carried again to the end where he says it will be very bad (and that’s why we are going). He tells us “Then leaf subsides to leaf,” When the special light of the dawn ends the leaf will again look like a leaf. It is curious, however, that he uses the word “subsides”. It is negative and denotes a recess or reduction of something of a higher value to something of lesser value. A flower ranks much higher than a leaf in his value system.

    Are we convinced? No. He feels the need to prove to us and to reaffirm to himself that his value judgment is correct by showing us how very despicable the leave is. By desecrating the lowly leaf he thinks it somehow raises the value of the flower. He proceeds to tells us “So Eden sank to grief,” (because of the terrible leaf.) It was the the leaf and not else that got them cast out of Paradise. How despicable the leaf therefore how very wonderful the flower. He is so very funny.

    So the end has arrived and is no longer merely anticipated. “So dawn goes down to day.” The dawn has now become day and the wonderful effects have ended. But, the first sun rises to day not “goes down”! How very odd. Again, in his value system, the dawn ranks much higher than the regular day. In his system, “going down” from high ranking “dawn” finds low ranking “day”. This also connotes the dawn is “dead” and has gone down as if into a grave. In both meanings it is readily apparent that he thought very highly of the dawn, its special light and transformational effects. He most definitely did not want it to end as none of us want anything so very wonderful to end.

    He tried to tell how very wonderful the effects were and feels a great sense of loss at its end but the emotional impact is even more than any of us could have guessed. He chimes “Nothing gold can stay.” This is totally a neurotic and very funny reaction. It is a generalization to everything gold not lasting because the gold of the magical dawn didn’t. It’s inappropriately fatalistic as there are gold coins, nuggets, bullion and a never ending dawn that moves from place-to-place around the Earth with each hour. Very many gold things will be around much longer than any of us. Woody Allen, beware.

  6. Elizabeth says:

    This is one of my Favorite poems of all times. I love how he refers to the fall of the Garden of Eden as the end of a beautiful day. Nothing beautiful can last forever.

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