“Seeing Frost Anew”


Another one of Frost’s poems never fully landed for me until I moved to New England. “Nothing Gold Can Stay,” offers the line “Nature’s first green is gold.”

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leafs 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. 

Since the rest of the poem goes quite abstract(or so I thought for years) I never really took in the literal truth of Frost’s lines. In Oregon where we lived, the preponderance of trees are evergreens. True to their name, they don’t change colors. But in New England, the majority of trees are deciduous. This accounts, of course, for the splendid fall displays of leaves that people flock here to admire. But it also proves the truth of Frost’s lines.

One day in early spring, mid-March here, I looked out at a forest of maples and saw that they were gleaming gold. While they turn quickly to green as the leaves unfold, they are in fact first gold. Frost is right about the hue being hard to hold. In fact, they seem to change very quickly to green. But  for a short and lovely time, the trees shine luminously.


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