Nothing Gold Can Stay
The leaves are turning in our neck of the woods. There’s something so gloriously alive about the fall, and yet a tinge of sadness as well. Which is probably what put me in mind of Robert Frost’s familiar Nothing Gold Can Stay.
I don’t know that Frost had this at all in mind, but it reminds me a bit of Herbert’s “The Pulley” as it raises – at least for me – the question of whether God “has placed eternity” in our hearts (Eccl. 3:11). Do the decaying leaves, that is, invite us to imagine something incorruptible? Unlike Herbert however, Frost offers no answer, instead reminding us, perhaps, that our answer to that question is the great gamble of our lives while also calling us to revere that which is gold, even if it cannot stay.
I admire how Frost’s mastery of words provides a remarkably simple poem of four two-line rhymes that you can nevertheless read a hundred times and always find something new. Depth from disciplined simplicity and determined straigt-forwardness – something preachers and politicians alike could learn from.
So in this last weekend of September, enjoy the glory of season, the shimming colors of the turning leaves, the transiency of their beauty, the fleeting character of this life we share, the startling grace and heartbreaking brevity of all that is gold in our world, and the promise – the wager – that there is also something more of which all this only hints.
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.
Nothing Gold Can Stay, from The Poetry of Robert Frost: The Collected Poems.