The Statue

That I might chisel a statue, line on line,
   Out of a marble’s chaste severities!
   Angular, harsh; no softened curves to please;
Set tears within the eyes to make them shine,
And furrows on the brow, deep, stern, yet fine;
   Gaunt, awkward, tall; no courtier of ease;
   The trousers bulging at the bony knees;
Long nose, large mouth . . . But ah, the light divine
Of Truth, – the light that set a people free!—
   Burning upon it in a steady flame,
   As sunset fires a white peak on the sky . . .
Ah, God! To leave it nameless and yet see
   Men looking weep and bow themselves and cry—
   ‘Enough, enough! We know thy statue’s name!’


Source: She Wields a Pen: American Women Poets of the Nineteenth Century (University of Iowa Press, 1997)
More Poems by Ella Higginson