Nothing Gold Can StayMay 28, 2020 02:07PM ● By Shannon Mc Kenzie
My 12-year-old son and I had an interesting conversation the other day. (Interesting to me, anyway—he’s probably forgotten it entirely.) I mentioned that one of my favorite poems is Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken,” and he responded that he’d read it but didn’t care for it. He preferred Frost’s “Nothing Gold Can Stay.”
I couldn’t believe it. “How can you not like ‘The Road Not Taken’?” I asked, offended.
He shrugged. “Just don’t.”
He recently read The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton, in his English class and really liked the book. “Nothing Gold Can Stay” is the poem that Ponyboy recites to Johnny, and that Johnny alludes to later when he’s dying in the hospital. “Stay gold, Ponyboy,” he says, essentially urging Ponyboy to remain innocent rather than growing up bitter like many of their peers.
I think it was my son’s strong and sure response that took me by surprise. He’s growing up and has his own opinions, and that’s a good thing, of course—just surprising because before he didn’t have strong opinions that differed from mine. So, nothing gold can stay.
One of my favorite movies, the 2015 remake of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, has a great scene where the first mate on the Icelandic trawler yells, “Stay gold, Ponyboy!” after Walter as he outruns a crowd to claim the one bike. The reference this time is funny, but Frost’s poem remains profound:
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.
Let’s make the best of every golden moment. Wishing you a happy and loving February.