A bargeman heard the Statue of Liberty speak;
Once, just once, he saw her bend,
Set her torch upon a peak,
Gather her sheathing, and descend.
No mere display of might,
No calculated show
Moved Her Stateliness so
To shift her height;
But a whale from the open sea,
With a plea, a pang, a wounded pride —
Rumors of her stature had implied:
There dwelt a creature mightier than he.
“No,” said the Statue, “I defer,
And to your greater standard I refer;
Less than the knots of your leviathan span
Are my, mere mortal, statute miles of man.”
The whale was soothed, and spouted in content;
The bargeman watched his sleek diminishing back;
Was it a tale the Statue would invent?
A lie to keep the benthic peace intact?
The luminous wake had faded into black;
The Statue turned, retrieved her lamp, and rose,
Resumed her old uncompromising pose,
And let the witness ponder her intent.