Thursday, April 25, 2013

Spring has sprung, the grass riz…

Nothing Gold Can Stay

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leafs 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.

              -Robert Frost

One month ago I wrote in this space about spring finally arriving. How foolish. In the past four weeks we have had wind, snow, torrential rains and biting cold worthy of a January morning. So much for spring. But things are finally changing. Maybe.

Frost’s poem is one I recite when spring is noticeable to the eye, which it is now. It is one of two poems that cross my mind this time of year (more about the other one later).

I was introduced to this poem a few years ago and was struck by the paradoxes it presents: “green is gold…leaf’s a flower.” Which is not really a paradox, rather the truth. Some, but not all, trees and shrubs (the forsythia for example) have a show of gold for a short time, or as Frost states, “only so an hour.” Others, such as the magnolia tree, start with a flower which soon turns into a leaf. I find the way Frost captures spring compelling, but it is his parallel to Eden that draws me in.

His reference to Eden sinking in grief intrigues me. Upon study I found Frost was referring to felix culpa, loosely translated as “fortunate fall.” Meaning that an unfortunate event, or a series of them, leads to a better outcome. In Biblical theology the fateful circumstances of Adam in the Garden of Eden in the long run caused good to happen.

Such as with spring. The gold and flowers are pleasing to the eye, but only last a short while as they succumb to the leaf which provides shade for the plant allowing it to live.

The poem also speaks of life. To put this thinking into practice I will use the birth of a child as an example. When born, the child is new and fresh, but, as any parent that has guided a child to adulthood knows, it isn’t for long. It seems this precious time lasts, in Frost’s words, “only so an hour.”

Grief, not as severe as Eden’s perhaps, also exists. Children cause and suffer grief, but, as every parent knows, this heartache, in the form of whatever it may be, also builds character and helps mold and shape the child. Although difficult to navigate at the time this grief results in a “fortunate fall,” eventually leading to a better person and a more-rounded adult. At least that is the hope.

In my interpretation the only line in the poem that does not offer hope, but speaks volumes about life, is the last, “Nothing gold can stay.” Flowers, gold buds and dawn, as well as life, is not forever. In time all come to an end—at least for awhile. Sad, but real. However the poem doesn’t make me sad, rather it provides incentive to pay attention to the early buds and flowers of spring and to drink in life, hug my children and grandchildren, revel in their accomplishments and appreciate what I—they—have been given. Ah, the power of a poem.

To lighten the mood, earlier I mentioned another poem that crosses my mind this time of year. Actually it is not a poem, but rather a ditty. I remember it playing on the radio sometime in the 70s and it has stuck with me since:

“Spring has sprung, the grass has ris, I wonder how my spark plug is?”

I know, silly, and not exactly literary. I believe it was an ad by a spark plug manufacture to prompt homeowners to replace the spark plug on the lawnmower before the mowing season starts. I have no idea how effective it was but it stuck with me. The things one remembers.

Upcoming events:

There will be more on this in later posts but a heads up is in order in case anyone wants to make plans. On Friday, May 24 from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. a special exhibit opening is planned for “Parodies of a Portrait: American Gothic’s Place in Society.” As most know. American Gothic continues to be one of the most parodied paintings in the world. “Parodies of a Portrait” explores the history of these parodies and how this iconic painting is interpreted in society.

On June 8 and 9, in conjunction with American Gothic Days in Eldon, the Center will sponsor an art show, a 5k run/walk and a 20-plus mile bicycle ride. Details about that weekend’s activities can be found at the website:

Brian Chambers
Media Coordinator
American Gothic House Center

The American Gothic House Center strives to become financially independent through gift shop revenue, sponsorships, and by establishing an endowment fund. Funds raised in this campaign will be used to match the Iowa Cultural Trust Endowment Challenge Grant and will become endowment funds to support the Center's annual operations. As a subscriber to the weekly newsletter, you have already shown support for the American Gothic House Center. I invite you to strengthen your role in the valuable experience we provide the community by making a contribution to our fund drive. Click here to give your tax deductible gift, or head to our website for more information. Thank you to all who have donated so far!
        Our Mission: Integrating the puzzle pieces of American Gothic
300 American Gothic St | Eldon, IA 52554 | 641-652-3352 |

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