Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. II. Ben Jonson to Dryden
Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. II. The Seventeenth Century: Ben Jonson to Dryden
Nox Nocti Indicat Scientiam
By 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        5
    And heaven-ward flies,
The Almighty’s mysteries to read
In the large volumes of the skies.
For the bright firmament
    Shoots forth no flame        10
So silent, but is eloquent
In speaking the Creator’s name.
No unregarded star
    Contracts its light,
Into so small a character,        15
Remov’d 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.        20
It tells the conqueror,
    That far-stretched power,
Which his proud dangers traffic for,
Is but the triumph of an hour:
That from the farthest north        25
    Some nation may
Yet undiscovered issue forth,
And o’er his new got conquest sway.
Some nation yet shut in
    With hills of ice,        30
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,        35
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.        40
For they have watched since first
    The world had birth:
And found sin in itself accursed,
And nothing permanent on earth.

Shakespeare · Bible · Strunk · Anatomy · Nonfiction · Quotations · Reference · Fiction · Poetry
© 1993–2015 · [Top 150] · Subjects · Titles · Authors · World Lit.