The Flight


Rudyard Kipling

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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