The speaker of “Nothing Gold Can Stay” offers no concrete details about who they are. As a result, we don’t really know anything about them with regard to their age, gender, race, or class. What we do know, however, is that the speaker is preoccupied by the theme of transience, and that they’re feeling sad about it. Perhaps the strongest evidence of the speaker’s melancholy comes in line 6, where they reference the biblical story of how “Eden sank to grief.” According to the Book of Genesis, Adam and Eve defied God by eating from the Tree of Knowledge, and as a result God cast them out of Eden. Not only did this exile bar them from paradise, but it also saddled succeeding generations with the burden of original sin. As a narrative of loss and exile, the story of the so-called “Fall” is also clearly a narrative of humanity’s decline.

With this idea in mind, it becomes possible to speculate that the speaker may be at a point in their life when they feel increasingly concerned about their own decline. Given the speaker’s opening interest in images that draw from springtime renewal, it’s possible that they could be reaching adulthood and thinking about the transience of their own youth. Just as the young bud soon unfolds into a flower, and that flower in turn fades, the speaker may be thinking about their own “flowering” into maturity and about how the prime of their life can’t last forever. It’s also possible that the speaker could be more advanced in years, and that they’re feeling sad about the irretrievability of their youth and the coming of old age. Curiously, Frost himself was 48 when he wrote this poem, a point during middle age when people can experience a crisis about their own mortality and the relative brevity of human life. Regardless of whether we associate them with Frost, it’s clear that the speaker is feeling troubled by the passage of time and by the inevitability of their decline.