Nothing Gold Can Stay

“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.”

–Robert Frost

Natures’s first green is gold; her hardest hue to hold.

I read this poem and think of my neighbor’s tree, located at the end of our block.  Right now the tree boasts leaves of stunning gold.  Every year I wait for this moment in autumn when this tree will burst into pure radiance.

Currently the trees in Minneapolis are filled with variegated, breath-taking hues of orange, red, rust, and yes—gold.  And just as I know I can count on this transformation happening each year, I also know—like Frost knew—that such beauty cannot stay.  I know that nothing lasts, that everything dies. We may not want to recognize or admit it, but our deep consciousness informs us that this is so.  Deep down, we know.

We also know, in our heart of hearts, that this is true of our own lives as well, that everything and everyone dies.  Maybe that is why, in years past, I’ve occasionally felt a bit melancholy at this time of year.  My heart senses the sweet sorrow of impermanence.

But this same impermanence also evokes much gratitude.  While this beauty exists today, there is no guarantee for tomorrow.  And so I’ll embrace this beauty while it’s here, before leaves drop and branches are left bare. As the wise poet says, “Nothing gold can stay.”


Our neighbor's tree. Photo: RStanton 2014
Our neighbor’s tree.
Photo: RStanton 2014

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