The Collected Poems of Dora Sigerson Shorter/The Flight of the Wild Geese

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THE FLIGHT OF THE WILD GEESE

Wrapt in the darkness of the night,
Gathering in silence on the shore,
Wild geese flown from hiding on the hills
(Hark I the wolf-hound; thrice he howled before),
Wild geese with forest leaves tangled in their hair.
Is that blood on the heaving breasts of some.
Or dull red clay from fox-deserted lair?
Why thus so stealthy do they come?
Wild geese, women's arms round you in the darkness;
Women's hearts forbid to cry though they break;
Little children must not sob in their kissing;
“Brother, forever? O hush thee, for God's sake!”
Wild geese with fierce eyes, deathless hope in your hearts.
Stretching your strong white wings eager for your flight.
These women's eyes will watch your swift returning.
(Thrice the banshee cried in the stormy night).

Flinging the salt from their wings, and despair from their hearts.
They arise on the breast of the storm with a cry and are gone.
When will you come home, wild geese, with your thousand strong?
(The wolf-dog loud in the silence of night howls on.)
Not the fierce wind can stay your return or tumultuous sea,
for the freedom France gives to your feet on her luxuriant shore.

No smiles for your love like the tears of your sorrowing land,
Only Death in his reaping could make you return no more.
White birds, white birds, I dream of that glad homecoming;
Though human eyes could not mark your silent flight,
Women lie face down with clenched hands in the sea.
(Thrice the banshee cries in the stormy night.)