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“The Seafarer” and Robert Frost’s “Nothing Gold Can Stay”

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The power of Mother Nature has always been envied, cursed, and awe-inspiring. In old Anglo-Saxon literature, most works were devoted to the sea, and in “The Seafarer” it applauds the sea, but at the same time the author has deference for its power. Robert Frost’s “Nothing Gold Can Stay” also shows this devotion and despite the fact that their subjects differ, the ideas that the two poems are attempting to get across are not too different. In “The Seafarer,” it continuously refers to the sea as the author’s passion, even so he has respect for it, “My soul roams with the sea, the whales / Home, wandering to the widest corners / Of the world” (59-61B “The Seafarer”). Yet after the second half of the poem, it discusses what humanity is becoming, and how the world is “Kept spinning by toil. All glory is tarnished” (87 “The Seafarer”). Along with this idea that the world is slowly but surely coming to its demise, it says that nothing on this world can last forever “. . . but nothing / Golden shakes the wrath of God” (99B-100 “The Seafarer”).

“Nothing Gold Can Stay” essentially fits this description also. “Natures first green is gold” (1 “Nothing Gold Can Stay). Even though it refers to a floral perspective, it can also be applicable to wha tthe author is trying to describe in “The Seafarer”. By pointing out that nature’s first green is gold, refering to the vegetative growth seen in spring, it sets up the reader for the last line “Nothing gold can stay” (8 “Nothing Gold Can Stay). The reader could take the passage to a literal or a figurative sense. Either the beginning of spring is something that is wonderful yet temporary, or they could apply this to a worldy perspective saying that everything will eventually perish. Either way, the two poems at some point cross over and can almost explain the other.

Religionwas a big part of Anglo-Saxon culture. Whether the religion of the time was christianity, animism, or mythology, it all influenced major aspcets of their daily life. It helped decide which villages were weaker for plundering, which leaders were in need, and what values were to be kept. At the end of “The Seafarer” is an ode to God of sorts which was more than likely added by monks or scribeswho wrote down the tale, to add some sort of morality to it. For instance, “And God mightier than any man’s mind” (116 “The Seafarer”) is praising God for His power and pointing out that man is helpless when under God’s mercy. “Nothing Gold Can Stay” also has a religious reference although its harder to spot. Robert Frost does not normally add this element of religion to his poems, but in this statement “So Eden sank to grief” (6 “Nothing Gold Can Stay) allows an exception.

This is alluding to the bible which says that Eden was a sanctuary of sorts that God had put on this earth for the first of mankind to live. The line before the allusion, “Then leaf subsides to leaf” (5 “Nothing Gold Can Stay) shows what after the initial blossoming of spring, it is not as awe-inspiring after those first few. Because this phenomenon is over so quickly Eden, which is a garden, sinks into grief. Eden cannot literally sink into grief, but what Frost is trying to portray is the mourning that those who appreciate it feel after those “golden” moments. Though one poem was more loquacious, and the other more to the point, they both portrayed religious application. The author of “The Seafarer” and Robert Frost were from different time periods, but both encompassed the same appreciation fornature.

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