The Flight


When the grey geese heard the Fool's tread 
Too near to where they lay, 
They lifted neither voice nor head, 
But took themselves away. 
No water broke, no pinion whirred, 
There went no warning call. 
The steely, sheltering rushes stirred 
A little, that was all. 
Only the osiers understood, 
And the drowned meadows spied 
What else than wreckage of a flood 
Stole outward on that tide. 
But the far beaches saw their ranks 
Gather and greet and grow 
By myriads on the naked banks 
Watching their sign to go; 
Till, with a roar of wings that churned 
The shivering shoals to foam, 
Flight after flight took air and turned 
To find a safer home; 
And, far below their steadfast wedge, 
They heard (and hastened on) 
Men thresh and clamour through the sedge 
Aghast that they were gone! 
And, when men prayed them come anew 
And nest where they were bred, 
"Nay, fools foretell what knaves will do," 
Was all the grey geese said.


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