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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