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  • Writer's picture@ Cynthia Adina Kirkwood

Nothing Gold Can Stay

Updated: Mar 21, 2022

Ponyboy Curtis recites the poem to Johnny Cade while they are hiding at an old church in The Outsiders, a 1983 American coming-of-age film directed by Francis Ford Coppola.


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.

-- Robert Frost


President John F. Kennedy, at whose inauguration Frost delivered a poem, said of the poet:

“He saw poetry as the means of saving power from itself. When power leads man towards arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the areas of man’s concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of his existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses.”

The Outsiders, a Francis Ford Coppola film, is noted for its cast of up-and-coming stars, including C. Thomas Howell, Rob Lowe, Emilio Estevez, Matt Dillon, Tom Cruise, Patrick Swayze, Ralph Macchio, and Diane Lane. It helped spark the Brat Pack genre of the 1980s.

“Stay gold,” are the last words of Johnny Cade (Ralph Macchio) to Ponyboy Curtis (C. Thomas Howell), and he refers to the poem in his letter which Ponyboy receives after his death:

“I’ve been thinking about that poem and that guy who wrote it.

“He meant you’re gold when you’re a kid. Like green. When you’re a kid, everything’s new. Dawn. It’s just when you get used to everything that it’s day. Like the way you dig sunsets, Pony. That’s gold.

“Keep that way. It’s a good way to be. There’s still lots of good in the world.”

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