WHEN I survey the bright
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.