Friday, March 30, 2007

Poetry Friday: Pop Quiz

(apologies to Robert Frost)

Nothing Gold Can Stay

1. Nature's first green is what color?
A. Blue
B. Violet
C. Gold
D. Green

2. This hue is her hardest to what?
A. Fold
B. Hold
C. Cold
D. Mold

3. Her early leaf's a what?
A. Shower
B. Bower
C. Glower
D. Flower

4. For how long?
A. An hour
B. A minute
C. A day
D. A season

5. Because of the evidence in the poem that "leaf subsides to leaf./ So Eden sank to grief,/ so dawn goes down to day./ Nothing gold can stay." would you say that this poem is
A. Optimistic
B. Pessimistic

(Answers: c, b, d, a...and the jury's out on number 5. I'll poll the audience on that one. Let me know in the comments whether you see this poem as an optimistic one or a pessimistic one. There's a story behind this question that I'll share later this weekend.)


  1. I don't suppose this quiz was an homage to Susan Beth Pfeffers Marly the Kid?

    I don't see it as pessimistic because the cycle of life is natural and beautiful. That's my story and I'm sticking with it.

  2. Anonymous1:52 PM

    I'm gonna say optimistic; Eden wasn't all it was cracked up to be, methinks. The explosion of dawn into day, gold into green, is the essence of life and fully-realized possibility.

    How about it?

  3. Hmmm, I was prepared to say optimistic, but now that I've read the top two comments I think I see my own state of denial. Sorry ladies!

    I think it isn't pessimistic, but it is a bit melancholy. While it celebrates the gold at the start of each day, it seems to give a small sigh for the passing of that gold into the more mundane. So leaf subsides to leaf ... in other words, what started as a flower because of the reflected golden light of the sun, we see is after all just a leaf. Pretty in its own way, sure, but just a leaf.

    This is one of my favorite poems in the world. I find it absolutely beautiful. But it's a lament, I'd say.

  4. Mary Lee,

    I guess it all depends on whether you'd want trees to keep their flowers and never grow green leaves, which provide shade and help the large plants to manufacture food through photosynthesis--and whether you'd like to live your days in the light of dawn and never see the sun rise high in the sky and then set in an explosion of color--and Eden might have seemed like a paradise, but Adam and Eve weren't allowed to eat the apples! I know I'm being literal here. But what we may behold as beautiful or perfect is fleeting. I think that, in a way, is what makes it all the more beautiful. If flowers grew all year, would we appreciate them as much? I guess whether one perceives the poem as either optimistic or pessimistic depends on one's perspective.


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