Paler be they than daunting death the sleek slim deer the tall tense deer.
So now the deer know what's up. How can we tell? Well, instead of being "dappled" or "flown," they're now "tall tense deer."
Now, instead of running or sipping water, the deer are alert and tense. They sense a shift in action, too.
Why are the deer themselves described (with more alliteration) as "daunting death"? That's one of the brilliant moves of this poem. Instead of relating events as they occur, Cummings describes things as if they themselves have characteristics that foreshadow actions. The deer appear to be paler than death. Still, they don't die. Why the difference? Well, it's foreshadowing, for sure. But foreshadowing what? Read on, friends. We're almost at the end…