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Something Told the Wild Geese

Something told the wild geese
It was time to go.
Though the fields lay golden,
Something whispered, “Snow.”

Leaves were green and stirring,
Berries, lustre-glossed,
But beneath warm feathers
Something cautioned, “Frost.”

All the sagging orchards
Steamed with amber spice,
But each wild breast stiffened
At remembered ice.

Something told the wild geese
It was time to fly —
Summer sun was on their wings,
Winter, in their cry.


Rachel Field (1894 – 1942), American novelist, poet, children’s fiction writer. Awards include the Newbery Medal and the National Book Award. The poem presented here was also set to music. I must say that I find it incredible that the words were written 100 years ago: to my ear, they might have been composed last week. Many anthologies contain this poem; I copied it out of
Adventure Awaits, 1967, a school reader from The Canadian Ginn Basic Readers series, and it’s also included in the 2008 Bill Martin Jr. Big Book of Poetry.