298. Nox Nocti Indicat Scientiam

William Habington. 1605-1654

  WHEN I survey the bright
        Celestial sphere;
So rich with jewels hung, that Night
  Doth like an Ethiop bride appear:

  My soul her wings doth spread
        And heavenward flies,
Th' Almighty's mysteries to read
  In the large volumes of the skies.

  For the bright firmament
        Shoots forth no flame
So silent, but is eloquent
  In speaking the Creator's name.

  No unregarded star
        Contracts its light
Into so small a character,
  Removed far from our human sight,

  But if we steadfast look
        We shall discern
In it, as in some holy book,
  How man may heavenly knowledge learn.

  It tells the conqueror
        That far-stretch'd power,
Which his proud dangers traffic for,
  Is but the triumph of an hour:

  That from the farthest North,
        Some nation may,
Yet undiscover'd, issue forth,
  And o'er his new-got conquest sway:

  Some nation yet shut in
        With hills of ice
May be let out to scourge his sin,
  Till they shall equal him in vice.

  And then they likewise shall
        Their ruin have;
For as yourselves your empires fall,
  And every kingdom hath a grave.

  Thus those celestial fires,
        Though seeming mute,
The fallacy of our desires
  And all the pride of life confute:--

  For they have watch'd since first
        The World had birth:
And found sin in itself accurst,
  And nothing permanent on Earth.

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