Frost’s short poem “Nothing Gold Can Stay” addresses the fragility of nature, that itscycle is such that green leaves do not last forever: “leaf subsides to leaf” (he puns on thesecond “leaf,” so that it can be read as “leafs leave”) just as “Eden sank to grief,”meaning just as the pleasures of Eden eventually ended and humanity was thrust into theworld where suffering exists. This is the fact of life that Pony learns: good things in lifedon’t last. In its discussion of the novel, Enotes points out that the poem speaks back tothe images of sunsets in the story: “Sunsets are short….But it is possible, Pony proves, toremain true to ones self and thereby ‘stay gold.’”Setting the MoodAs students come into the classroom on the day of your unit over Robert Frosts "NothingGold Can Stay," have some of the lights dimmed, or half of your lights turned off. If youhave a multimedia projector, a slideshow of some images of sunrise, trees, animals, andother plants would be a great mood-setter. If you have an overhead projector, if you couldget a color slide of a picture of sunrise, that would be helpful too. In the background, Iwould suggest some light classical music. As the students come in, ask them to closetheir eyes and think about the first thing they do in the morning, or what it feels like towake up. Ask them to make a list of the things they like most about the first part of theday. You could also have them write this as a journal entry before moving into adiscussion of "Nothing Gold Can Stay."Bring On the PoemMake sure that every student has a copy of the poem for annotation purposes. Becausethe poem is so short, and the devices are fairly easy to recognize, this is a great poem touse with middle schoolers when starting to teach about annotating literature.Read through the poem for the students. If you have a DVD or sound recording of "TheOutsiders," you can play that part of the reading for the students. Ask them to mark therhyme scheme, any literary devices they recognize, and any words or phrases that jumpout at them.Analyzing Nothing Gold Can StayUse this analysis to create your own "Nothing Gold Can Stay" assignment: • The rhyme scheme is AABBCCDD, so this is a simple poem if you are just introducing your students to end rhyme and showing them how to mark rhyme schemes. • Alliteration -- "Natures first green is gold," "Her hardest hue to hold," and "So dawn goes down to day." Alliteration, like most sound devices, is used to draw the readers attention to particular words or phrases that express the poems rhetorical argument. Here, the first example shows that gold is even more prized a
color in nature than green; the second emphasizes how fleeting a color gold is in nature -- the gold that comes with the sunrise, that is. The third example echoes that sentiment, showing how quickly sunrise simply becomes sunlight.• Meter -- This is iambic trimeter, which makes this poem a good choice if you are just starting to teach the students how to scan a poem for meter. Interestingly, the first word, "Nature," inverts the iambic structure, which is commonly used when authors want to bring a particular word to the readers attention.• Allusion -- "So Eden sank to grief" -- This refers to the Garden of Eden, where Adam and Eve brought death into the world by giving in to the temptation of the serpent, in the Old Testament. You may be shocked at how few of your students know what this allusion is talking about. This allusion shows how fleeting the perfect and the ideal are in our world.• Personification -- referring to Nature as a female. This is a long-standing association with the idea of "Mother Nature" providing sustenance to our world.