Written by Art Is Essential

Art Is Essential November 2020

Writers on the art that matters to them. #ArtIsEssential

Gold, Her Hardest Hue to Hold

Katie Battaglia Entner

The beginning of the Covid confinement season was also the beginning of spring. Primroses and wild daisies were flourishing, and I would crouch next to a cluster of them, breathing deeply, letting their small beauty calm my anxiety. 

The wildflowers were extremely precious to me, which made me think of Robert Frost’s poem “Nothing Gold Can Stay.” “Nature’s first green is gold,” says the first line. That line ran through my head a lot in March as I reveled in the golden freshness of the flowers, always welcome after winter, but even more so when I needed something beautiful. 

The rest of the poem, though, doesn’t resonate as much. The beginning of this pandemic season has not been “a flower,” nor was our past a golden one that “sank to grief”. 

But these days another line sticks out to me, the second one: “Nature’s first green is gold, Her hardest hue to hold.” 

Her hardest hue to hold. 

We are experiencing a unique season of transition. This time between the old normal and the new one will not last forever. The instability of change is too hard to hold, and eventually, we will create a new normal, for our families, our neighborhoods, our society. 

But now, right now, we have the chance to decide what that new normal will look like. Will it be more equitable? More sustainable? Healthier? More innovative? Kinder? 

Now is when we decide. In this golden moment. Golden because it is rare, and thus, precious. Golden because it is malleable. 

“Nature’s first green is gold,” 

Her emerald’s precious, too. 

And she is rich whose hand can hold 

The apple’s ruby view. 

Still we esteem the golden hour 

Its fleeting vein a vow: 

The seasons will keep turning 

And the time to sow is now.

Katie Entner is a freelance writer and editor who once lived on a ship and twice learned a new language.

Robert Frost (1874-1963) was born in San Francisco and later spent nine years living and working on a farm. His first poem, entitled My Butterfly was published by the New York Independent two years after Frost graduated high school. He won four Pulitzer Prizes.

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