Why Did Robert Frost Write Nothing Gold Can Stay

Robert Frost wrote the famous poem ‘Nothing Gold Can Stay’ as an exploration of how fleeting life can be and how beautiful moments can be short lived. The poem is seen as one of Frost’s most poignant works, praised for its succinct and unfaltering language. He conveys his powerful message through a combination of newly formed metaphors and literary devices, giving it a timeless and indefinable quality which has resonated with readers and readers today since it was published in 1923. Through the detailed examination of the poem, this essay will examine why Robert Frost wrote Nothing Gold Can Stay.

Influence of History on the Poem

The poem was first published in a collection of his poetry known as ‘New Hampshire’, and was written whilst he was travelling through the vast New England region with his family in the early 1920s. This is an area which is steeped in a rich history and was highly influential in the development of Frost’s poetry. He was strongly influenced by the rural surroundings, particularly the various plants and trees which dominated the landscape. These were to become an integral part of his work, and the imagery was an integral part of the poem.

Frost was also heavily influenced by the works of his friend and mentor Edward Thomas, who mentored him during the 1930s. Thomas’s works were characterized by a longing for the past and an almost idyllic view of rural life. This is particularly evident in Nothing Gold Can Stay, with the poem’s themes of nostalgia and the passing of time deeply rooted in Thomas’s works. Frost likely wished to pay homage to his friend by using similar devices in his work.

Frost was heavily influenced by both the countryside and the writings of his mentor, creating a poem which was both reflective and melancholic in nature.

The Meaning Behind the Poem

Although Frost’s poem was published nearly a century ago, its message has remained resonant and distinct. The poem follows a lyrical structure with the lines repeating and the themes constantly revisited. He explores the concept of life being fragile and temporal, and how once found moments can leave just as quickly as they arrived.

Frost uses a variety of newly formed metaphors to express his message. The imagery of the poem ranges from bright and vibrant buds giving way to a dull grey winter to sunrise and sunset, marking the beginning and end of the day. Each metaphor carries with it its own interpretations, but they all converge to express Frost’s feeling of transience.

The poem can also be seen to reflect a deep appreciation for the fleetingness of life and how maybe sometimes it is the moments that are so short lived that can truly be appreciated. Frost’s prose expresses a joy in the present and an unwillingness for it to end.

Frost’s Writing Style

Frost’s writing style is unique in that it is poetic but also has a directness and clarity that is uncommon in literature. He also manages to encapsulate complex themes in a concise and concise manner. His writing speaks directly to the heart, using simple and poetic language to evoke emotions of nostalgia and poignancy.

Further to this, Frost employs a steady rhythm to denote the passing of time and the evolution of feelings and ideas. The lines of the poem repeat in a steady and controlled manner and often carry a sense of inevitability or happening without reason. This allows Frost to evoke feelings of sadness and nostalgia without having to dwell too long on the scene or themes of the poem.

Analysis of the Poem

The lines of the poem are often short and direct and are full of imagery, allowing for multiple interpretations and levels of analysis. The poem has a circular structure which is highly symbolic, as it reflects a never-ending cycle of life in which moments arrive and leave as soon as we recognise them. This is a powerful concept and is one which Frost explores throughout the poem.

The usage of metaphors is also highly significant as Frost wishes to capture the essence of something that can never be retained. The simple but potent words allow us to feel the fleeting nature of life and the moments which pass by too soon, a theme which is in turn mirrored in the structure and imagery of the poem itself.

Influence of the Poem

Since its inception nearly a century ago, Nothing Gold Can Stay has become one of the most influential and resonant pieces of literature of all time. The poem has been referenced multiple times in popular culture, appearing in film, music and literature alike. It is one of Frost’s most renowned works and has been praised for its succinct and powerful language.

The poem has even been referenced in scientific communities, with scientists examining the inevitable decline of life and its fragility. Nothing Gold Can Stay expresses how the precious moments of life must always be cherished and appreciated, no matter how short-lived they may be.


In conclusion, Robert Frost wrote Nothing Gold Can Stay as an exploration of the transience of life. He was able to express his powerful message through a combination of newly formed metaphors and literary devices, giving it a timeless and unfaltering quality which has resonated with readers for almost a century. The poem also serves as a reminder to always appreciate the fleeting moments of life, as they can quickly turn to grey.

Dannah Hannah is an established poet and author who loves to write about the beauty and power of poetry. She has published several collections of her own works, as well as articles and reviews on poets she admires. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English, with a specialization in poetics, from the University of Toronto. Hannah was also a panelist for the 2017 Futurepoem book Poetry + Social Justice, which aimed to bring attention to activism through poetry. She lives in Toronto, Canada, where she continues to write and explore the depths of poetry and its influence on our lives.

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