Verse > Anthologies > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of English Verse
Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. 1919. The Oxford Book of English Verse: 1250–1900.
William Habington. 1605–1654
298. Nox Nocti Indicat Scientiam
  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 heavenward flies, 
Th' 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
  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.  20
  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,  25
        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  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 watch'd since first 
        The World had birth: 
And found sin in itself accurst, 
  And nothing permanent on Earth. 
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