Frost uses alliteration to diverse effect in “Nothing Gold Can Stay.” The term alliteration (uh-LIT-ter-AY-shun) refers to a situation when two or more words that are close together begin with the same letter. Sometimes, alliteration forges links of significance between words or concepts that may initially appear completely distinct. Other times, alliteration may have a more prominent sonic effect, creating meaning through the suggestive use of sound. The opening couplet of Frost’s poem features two examples of alliteration, with each example demonstrating a different function:

     Nature’s first green is gold,
     Her hardest hue to hold.

The alliteration in the first line occurs in the repeating G sound at the beginning of “green” and “gold.” The alliteration suggests a link between these colors that is further emphasized by the verb “is”: “green is gold.” Obviously, green and gold are completely different colors. However, the G sounds underscore a more abstract connection the speaker wants to make between them. Green is a color associated with life, and it is therefore ephemeral, just like gold. The alliteration in the second line emphasizes the theme of ephemerality by shifting from hard, concrete G sounds to wispy, aspirated H sounds that seem to disappear even as they’re said aloud: “Her hardest hue to hold.”


An allusion (uh-LOO-zhun) is a passing reference to a literary or historical person, place, or event, usually made without explicit identification or explanation. Frost uses allusion to powerful effect near the poem’s end, when the speaker makes a passing reference to the biblical Garden of Eden (lines 6–7):

     So Eden sank to grief,
     So dawn goes down to day.

In making this allusion to Eden, the speaker also implicitly references the story of the Fall. In the Bible, Adam and Eve commit the first sin by going against God’s decree not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge. Unable to quell their curiosity, they take an illicit piece of fruit from the Tree and eat it. This act has massive consequences. Not only does it lead to their expulsion from Eden, but it’s also the reason that, according to some denominations of Christianity, all humans are born in a state of original sin. The reference to this story from the Bible adds to the atmosphere of pessimism and melancholy that grows in the poem’s final lines. Just as humanity lost access to the Garden of Eden, which then “sank to grief,” so too does all that is beautiful in the world pass away.


Personification refers to instances where a poet invests an inanimate object or abstract concept with human-like attributes or feelings. In the opening lines, the speaker explicitly personifies “Nature” using the pronoun “her” (lines 1–4):

     Nature’s first green is gold,
     Her hardest hue to hold.
     Her early leaf’s a flower;
     But only so an hour.

Here, the speaker personifies “Nature” as a female figure who, as a symbol for the coming of spring, at once generates new life and yet cannot maintain that new life’s vitality. That is, though Nature produces the “green” of new growth, “her” chief problem is that this new growth is ephemeral. The green bud may grow into a flower, but that flower will only stay “an hour.” Given Nature’s personification as female, it’s telling that “her” ultimate achievement is to produce a “flower,” which is symbolically linked to female genitalia. The speaker extends the personification of Nature through their reference to Eden, whose “grief” (line 6) is thereby also gendered feminine. This gendering echoes a common bias against Eve as the biblical figure who was, according to Genesis, the first to be tempted to eat from the Tree of Knowledge. In all these ways, the personification of Nature as a female figure implicitly identifies femininity as an agent of decline and fall.