Donald Hall’s ‘Gold’ is a poem about love and memories. Hall describes his sweet old memories stored in metaphorical “identical rooms” of his body. The room where they spend their time together is one such place to revisit those old days. In a way, this piece also theorizes love to include inseparable devotion as the poet ponders over how lovers become part of each other.
In ‘Gold,’ Donald Hall describes the old memories stored inside the mind’s attic that the speaker revisits often.
In this poem, Hall’s speaker begins with reference to a number of “golden” things such as the pale gold walls, centers of daisies, and yellow roses. These are meant to symbolize the precious memories the speaker wove with his beloved. Then, he talks about affectionate gestures like “caressing and dozing” to show how they made love. Hall refers to a “golden room” as a metaphor for their love. The room of his glorious past would remain intact even after their death. In the end, the poet says that they left similar golden rooms or remnants within one another. The yellowish aura of the rooms is so bright and wholesome that it would never dim.
You can read the full poem here.
The poem is written in free-verse. It means there is no regular rhyme scheme or meter in the text. There are a total of 18 lines, unevenly distributed into two stanzas. The first stanza has 13 lines, and the second one has 5 lines. Besides, the poem is written from the first-person point of view, and the tone of the poem is affectionate, nostalgic, and amorous. The structure of the lines makes the reading smooth. They are connected internally, and the use of metrical pauses gives a unique rhythm to this free-verse text.
Hall’s poem ‘Gold’ contains the following literary devices that make the poet’s thoughts more appealing to readers.
- Imagery: The poet uses visual imagery to set the mood of the entire poem. He begins with the images of pale gold walls, “centers of daisies,” and “yellow roses.”
- Repetition: The poet repeats the word “gold,” which gives the readers a visual sense of how the poet perceives his love for his wife. Besides, he uses this term in different connotations.
- Metaphor: In the line, “We made in those days/ tiny identical rooms inside our bodies,” the poet refers to memories by using the phrase “identical rooms.” Hall refers to their memories of love and their remnants in each other’s body/mind as “tiny identical rooms” that are built in their bodies and exist eternally.
- Assonance: The “ai” and “i’ sounds are repeated in the line “tiny identical rooms inside our bodies.”
- Enjambment: It occurs throughout the text. For example, the lines “We slept and woke/ entering the golden room together” are enjambed.
Pale gold of the walls, gold
of the centers of daisies, yellow roses
pressing from a clear bowl. All day
caressing and dozing, your hand sleepily
touching my hair now.
In the first stanza of ‘Gold,’ the poet begins by using thematic imagery, such as pale golden walls, daisies, and yellow roses – all of which have the yellow color of the golf highlighted in them. The golden color symbolizes elegance, luxury, and glory. For the speaker, his memories are equivalent to the exquisiteness of the gold.
In the following lines of the first stanza, the poet describes affectionate gestures to express the love he has for his beloved. He recounts how they made love. The line “your hand sleepily touching my hair now” shows the depth of their intimacy.
The tone of this section is emotional, reminiscent, and romantic. Hall does an exemplary job in describing the simple things in his relationship that are still “golden” in his memories. In this way, the poet shows the love he has for his wife.
We made in those days
shining and whole.
In the second stanza, Hall describes how the memories of the time the couple spent together are eternal. Those memories are stored inside “tiny identical rooms” of their minds. These rooms will remain even after their death. It is because the poet eternalizes his memories through this poem. As long as the poem lives, those rooms will be shining and remain whole. The poem ends with this note, and the poet successfully captures the essence of emotional love in this piece. He also highlights the value of the old memories with his wife.
Donald Hall was an American poet, critic, writer, and editor. He authored more than fifty books across several genres of literature. He won several important awards, including the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry in 1988 and the National Medal of Arts in 2010. Hall published twenty-two books of poetry. His poem ‘Gold’ was first published in the collection Old and New Poems in 1990. It contains several poems published in earlier collections and some innovative, previously unpublished poems. This poem is particularly about a speaker’s love for his beloved and their “golden” memories of togetherness.
Donald Hall’s poem ‘Gold’ is about a speaker’s love for his partner, which is eternal. The “golden” memories of their intimacy and the hours they spent together in their “golden room” are featured in this poem.
The poem is written in the free-verse form with no regular rhyme scheme or meter. Hall uses a number of internal rhymes in order to make this piece lyrical. Besides, the poem is told from the perspective of a first-person speaker.
The tone of the poem is reminiscent, romantic, and pleasant. In this poem, a speaker rhetorically talks about the good old days when he spent time with his beloved in their “golden room.” Those memories are still alive and will remain alive in his mind.
The poet emphasizes his love by referring to the golden color. His love for his beloved is as exquisite and precious as gold. Its value never goes down. Thus, through the title of the poem, Hall hints at the pricelessness of love and old memories.
Here is a list of a few poems that similarly tap on the themes present in Donald Hall’s poem Gold.’ You can also explore other Donald Hall poems.
- ‘Nothing Gold Can Stay’ by Robert Frost — This poem describes the fleeting nature of beauty by discussing time’s effect on nature.
- ‘Straw into Gold’ by Glynn Young — In this poem, Young claims that people should take care of their lofty claims as they can shatter at any moment.
- ‘When You Come’ by Maya Angelou — This poem is about how a speaker deals with memories of a past lover.
You can also read about these beautiful love poems for her.