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Nothing Gold Can Stay

September 30, 2013


I drove up to Oberlin on Friday to get Walker and bring him home to have dinner and see a play photo-194that was being directed and performed by some of our old cronies from The Music Man.  On Saturday Ron and I drove him back up. It was beautiful autumn weather, and golden fields  stretched out on both sides of the little two-lane highways, making me think of this Robert Frost poem:

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.  photo-193

When I looked closer, there were spots of purple and white in among the gold in some of the fields. I think it’s white goldenrod and ironweed.  photo-198

While I tried to get a picture of one field, the llamas came over to the fence to pose for me. My phone camera couldn’t quite capture the billows of white among the gold and green of the field, but it got a pretty good photo of their inquiring faces.


The undergrowth at the side of the road is already full of various colors. These are the leaves that turn first.


Above the fields, the clouds are coming in with that autumn, windswept look. Too soon, the variegated gray of the sky will turn duller, and the fields will dull beneath it.  photo-195

Leaf will subside to leaf. In the meantime, I’m photographing the sides of the roads in an attempt to keep from looking ahead.

18 Comments leave one →
  1. freshhell permalink
    September 30, 2013 9:06 am

    Looks very much like the landscape here. Even the llamas.

    • October 1, 2013 10:33 pm

      I love to look at these glorious landscapes and think, like Keats’ bees, that warm days will never cease.

  2. September 30, 2013 9:15 am

    Beautiful photographs! Love the one of the llamas, that’s a pose indeed. This year it took slightly longer for the leaves to start falling here, which is great because a few years ago they began to fall in early August!

    • October 1, 2013 10:34 pm

      This afternoon I watched them falling, swirling around even though there was no breeze to speak of.

  3. September 30, 2013 12:42 pm

    I didn’t know that Frost Poem so thanks for the introduction. Everything in my garden is just beginning to turn gold and I know that one good frost (of the natural kind) will send it over.

    • October 1, 2013 10:34 pm

      It’s such a short poem that once you’ve read it, you may memorize it, involuntarily.

  4. September 30, 2013 4:43 pm

    This makes me think of Lorien:

    For in the autumn their leaves fall not, but turn to gold. Not till the spring and the new green opens do they fall, and then the boughs are laden with yellow flowers; and the floor of the wood is golden, and golden is the roof, and its pillars are silver…

    Gold in nature is ephemeral, except in Lorien.

  5. October 1, 2013 5:54 am

    We are still fully green here, although acorns are falling. That gives me a preview of the challenges I’ll face running in the dark in a few weeks. I’d prefer not to break an ankle on an acorn or slip and bust my butt in a pile of slippery leaves.

    • October 1, 2013 10:36 pm

      The hazards of fall and winter are too many to count, almost too many to shudder at.

  6. October 1, 2013 9:32 am

    Beautiful photos! I love llamas and their expressive eyes. This is one of the first falls that I am really not excited about. I usually love September – maybe because I am consumed by taking courses? whatever. Happy October (already!)

    • October 1, 2013 10:37 pm

      I do think that to love fall, you have to pause. It’s gone so quickly.

  7. October 1, 2013 10:54 am

    How nice that you’ve seen your son! We’ve spoken to ours on skype and I’ve been having a bit of an email exchange these past few days. I do hope yours is getting on okay.

    • October 1, 2013 10:39 pm

      He is doing extremely well. He loves everything about Oberlin, and is enjoying it about as much as humanly possible, diving into organic chemistry, Russian, and a part in a musical.

  8. October 3, 2013 11:50 am

    I love that poem. And what a gorgeous drive. I like alpacas better but llamas are pretty cool too 🙂

    • October 3, 2013 12:15 pm

      I looked up the difference when I called them llamas, and discovered that, basically, llamas are bigger. It’s like doves and pigeons!

  9. October 8, 2013 9:11 pm

    Mumsy always says that’s the only Robert Frost line that expresses a sentiment in the exact best way it could be expressed. “Nothing gold can stay.” I have tried to talk her out of this extremist position but she insists on it. Your views?

    • October 9, 2013 6:25 am

      Your mother is right. Every word in that line is the exact best word.
      One way to demonstrate this to yourself is to take turns putting spoken emphasis on each word in the line. My tendency is to put the emphasis on “can” because it opposes that idea to “will.” Other interpretations are equally as good, however. “Nothing” as opposed to “just this one thing because I love it so much I couldn’t live without it.” “Gold” as opposed to anything less corruptible. “Stay” as opposed to something like “die because she couldn’t help it, no matter how much she loved you and wanted to keep her soul inside her body.”
      The only sane position on this is an extremist position.

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