Category Archives: Catallus

Nothing Gold Can Stay – Robert Frost

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Just a word before I go. It seems we are forever saying farewell. Often we say it casually, in which case, “goodbye” is appropriate. Now, if one wants to interject a little feeling into the goodbye, one says “farewell”. “Fare thee well” if one likes pomposity and English verse.

Farewell also suggests a more permanent departure. In the military, staff and friends put on a “hale and farewell” for departing members of a unit. Hail and Farewell being a translation of “ave atque vale”, Gaius Valerius Catullus’ last words of the poem Carmen 101.

All this leads me to the thought that nothing is permanent. Goodbyes and farewells are in order. And as I will be away for a few days, I will just say “goodbye” or maybe “so long”.

Personally I have always like the French way, saying “À bientôt!”

Robert Frost’s Nothing Gold Can Stay was first published in 1923 and is I believe still under copyright. For that reason, I will quote only the first two lines and the last two in English and give the full translation into French. Therefore, it is an academic study and exempt from copyright laws.

If not, I will hear a “hello” from someone.

Premier vert de la nature est l’or,
Difficile sa teinte à tenir.
Au début sa feuille une fleur;
Seulement si une heure.
Puis la feuille affaisse à la feuille.
Alors Eden a sombré à la douleur,
Comme l’aube va à jour.
Rien de l’or ne restera.

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.

So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

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