Miami Dade College Nothing Gold Can Stay Poem Analysis Discussion

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Miami Dade College


This week, we continue analyzing poetry, but instead of one long poem, we have three short poems for analysis. All of them are more recent than anything we’ve read in class so far, and I’ve ordered them from oldest (1923) to newest (1997). This will be a much more freeform analysis. You’ve been answering my prompt questions all term, so this time, I’ll allow you to take the analysis where you want it to go rather than responding to particular questions from me.

For each of the three poems, simply write a short paragraph presenting your analysis of it that addresses the literal level (summary), the inferential level (interpretation of specific lines from the poem), and evaluative level (the bigger-picture meaning).

I’ve included the text of each poem below so that you don’t have to leave Blackboard at all for anything. As I’ve noted before, DO NOT Google information on these poems. Multiple interpretations are possible, and there are no wrong answers as long as your ideas are well supported. I haven’t even provided the names of the authors for these poems because I don’t want you to be influenced by anything other than the text itself. I’ll reveal the authors at the end of the week. Good luck!

“Nothing Gold Can Stay” (1923)

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.

“Theme for English B” (1949)

The instructor said,

Go home and write
a page tonight.
And let that page come out of you—
Then, it will be true.

I wonder if it’s that simple?

I am twenty-two, colored, born in Winston-Salem.

I went to school there, then Durham, then here

to this college on the hill above Harlem.

I am the only colored student in my class.

The steps from the hill lead down into Harlem,

through a park, then I cross St. Nicholas,

Eighth Avenue, Seventh, and I come to the Y,

the Harlem Branch Y, where I take the elevator

up to my room, sit down, and write this page:

It’s not easy to know what is true for you or me

at twenty-two, my age. But I guess I’m what

I feel and see and hear, Harlem, I hear you.

hear you, hear me—we two—you, me, talk on this page.

(I hear New York, too.) Me—who?

Well, I like to eat, sleep, drink, and be in love.

I like to work, read, learn, and understand life.

I like a pipe for a Christmas present,or records—Bessie, bop, or Bach.

I guess being colored doesn’t make me not like

the same things other folks like who are other races.

So will my page be colored that I write?

Being me, it will not be white.

But it will bea part of you, instructor.

You are white—yet a part of me, as I am a part of you.

That’s American.

Sometimes perhaps you don’t want to be a part of me.

Nor do I often want to be a part of you.

But we are, that’s true!

As I learn from you,

I guess you learn from me—

although you’re older—and white—

and somewhat more free.

This is my page for English B.

“Close My Eyes” (1997)

I was wayward child

With the weight of the world

That I held deep inside

Life was a winding road

And I learned many things

Little ones shouldn't know

But I closed my eyes

Steadied my feet on the ground

Raised my head to the sky

And though time's rolled by

Still feel like that child

As I look at the moon

Maybe I grew up

A little too soon

Funny how one can learn

To grow numb to the madness

And block it away

I left the worst unsaid

Let it all dissipate

And I try to forget

As I closed my eyes

Steadied my feet on the ground

Raised my head to the sky

And the time rolled by

Still feel like a child

As I look at the moon

Maybe I grew up

A little too soon

Nearing the edge

Oblivious I almost

Fell right over

A part of me

Will never be quite able

To feel stable

That woman-child falling inside

Was on the verge of fading

Thankfully I

Woke up in time

Guardian angel I

Sail away on an ocean

With you by my side

Orange clouds roll by

They burn into your image

And you're still alive

As I close my eyes

Steady my feet on the ground

Raise my head to the sky

And though time rolls by

Still feel like a child

As I look at the moon

Maybe I grew up

A little too soon

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Explanation & Answer


Running head: POEM ANALYSIS

Poem Analysis


Poem Analysis

The poem, Nothing Gold Can Stay, can be interpreted to reflect the shortness of life or
good life experiences. The stanza “But only so an hour" highlights the shortness of life and its
experiences. On the other hand, "gold" and "leaf" are used as metaphors for good life
experiences and life, respectively. There are different literal devices used in this poem. Rhyme is
common throughout the poem. For example, stanzas one and two end with the words "...

Really great stuff, couldn't ask for more.


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