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.
The poem was written in 1930, near the end of Kipling's life. What I have wondered is whether that is late enough to make it a reference to Jews fleeing Germany in response to the rise of Hitler and the increasing threat of anti-semitism.
Hitler did not take power until 1933, but 1930 was the election that made the Nazis the second largest party in parliament, which would fit the final two lines of the poem. A quick google failed to find any information on what actual events, if any, the poem is referring to. Does anyone know?
I did find a reference to Kipling having the swastika, an Indian good luck symbol which he had used long before Hitler used it, removed from his books after Hitler's rise to power.