The Daily Dick: Musings on the Greatest Novel Ever
"A sky-hawk that tauntingly had followed the main-truck downwards from its natural home among the stars, pecking at the flag, and incommoding Tashtego there; this bird now chanced to intercept its broad fluttering wing between the hammer and the wood; and simultaneously feeling that etherial thrill, the submerged savage beneath, in his death-gasp, kept his hammer frozen there; and so the bird of heaven, with archangelic shrieks, and his imperial beak thrust upwards, and his whole captive form folded in the flag of Ahab, went down with his ship, which, like Satan, would not sink to hell till she had dragged a living part of heaven along with her, and helmeted herself with it."
Musing: Wow wow wow. What an ending for the best novel ever. Here we have a dying ship, a dying tribe, and a living bird. All three (another three) converge. Tashtego unknowingly nails the bird to the flag - make of that what you will. Something living, something from heaven, must be taken by the flag of Ahab and taken down. If the bird symbolizes freedom, then this ending is specifically political and a dire commentary on America.