Which lines from the poem "Nothing Gold Can Stay" by Robert Frost connect to Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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Robert Frost's poem "Nothing Gold Can Stay" speaks of the fleetingness of youth, especially of springtime. His opening lines, "Nature's first green is gold, / Her hardest hue to hold," can be interpreted as reminding us that springtime with its fresh, youthful greens is a precious season. Not only that, springtime is very fleeting. It only lasts a few weeks and then the blossoms begin dying, as Frost reminds us in his lines, "Her early leaf's a flower; / But only so an hour." Since the poem speaks of the fleetingness of youth and even of the death of youth, it can easily be seen as relating to Romeo and Juliet.

Both the characters Romeo and Juliet are very young. Juliet is only twelve, as we learn from her father who tells Paris he wants Juliet to wait two more years to marry, until she is fourteen. We see this in his lines,

My child is yet a stranger in the world,
She hath not seen the change of fourteen years.
Let two more summers wither in their pride
Ere we may think her ripe to be a bride. (I.ii.8-11)

Romeo is a bit older than Juliet, but still recognizably young. It is generally speculated that since he is already introduced in society and a man roaming about town, he is in his late teens or even in his early twenties. Since both of these young flowers of Verona die such grievous deaths at such a young age, we can easily see how a poem about the fleetingness of youth and springtime, and even the death of youth and springtime, can relate to the play Romeo and Juliet.

We can especially see that Frost's poem relates to the death of springtime, or youth, in his last few lines,

So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

Since Adam and Eve were thrown out of the Garden of Eden for sinning, the garden eventually died from lack of care. Hence, we see that Frost's line referring to Eden sinking into grief can be translated as referring to death, which can easily be related to the deaths of young Romeo and Juliet. "Dawn" transitioning into "day" can also represent the death of dawn in its transition into daytime. Likewise, "dawn" can be translated as referring to springtime and "day" as referring to summer. Hence the birth, or start, of summer marks the end, or death, of spring. Just as we see in the play Romeo and Juliet, nothing young and beautiful ever lasts, "Nothing gold can stay."

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