Friday, March 22, 2019
Nothing Gold -- After Robert Frost
after Nothing Gold Can Stay by Robert Frost
Nature's first green is gold
or, in the case of that bush
with its six inches of new growth,
Or, in the case of that forsythia
on the south-facing side of the house,
an unbelievable shade of bright
Or, in the case of those new shoots
knifing up from exposed iris bulbs,
a simultaneously fragile but violent
All these early hues
in leaf, in flower
hard to hold as the earth moves
along its path
hour by hour
by day by day
by season by season,
not so much subsiding
as being subsumed
in the golden Eden
©Mary Lee Hahn, 2019
The first draft of this poem happened in one of our five-minute quick-writes in writing workshop this week. Another reminder that these small rituals are powerful not just for our student writers, but for our own writing lives.
I have a love-hate relationship with Nothing Gold Can Stay by Robert Frost. I landed in the honors program at the University of Denver based on good grades in a sub-standard rural high school. I was over my head in so many ways. There was so much I didn't even know I didn't know. A professor attempted to teach me how to craft a critical essay by humiliating me -- by showing me the work of a classmate who was already clearly on the path to his fame as a writer. Then he asked me if this poem by Robert Frost was hopeful or hopeless. My humiliation had turned to stubborn anger, and I argued that the poem was hopeful. And then I figured out on my own how to be the kind of writer I wanted to be.
It was that experience more than any other that taught me how to teach the writer, not the writing. Every writer can move to the next level, but you can only begin from where they are the moment they show you their own work.
Rebecca has the Poetry Friday Roundup at Sloth Reads, and how perfect is that? Tomorrow is National Goof Off Day, when our spring break begins!