Martins: September

At secret daybreak they had met —
Chill mist beneath the welling light
Screening the marshes green and wet —
An ardent legion wild for flight.

Each preened and sleeked an arrowlike wing;
Their eager throats with lapsing cries
Praising whatever fate might bring —
Cold wave, or Africa's paradise.

Unventured, trackless leagues of air,
England's sweet summer narrowing on,
Her lovely pastures: nought their care —
Only this ardour to be gone.

A tiny, elflike, ecstatic host ...
And 'neath them, on the highway's crust,
Like some small mute belated ghost,
A sparrow pecking in the dust.
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