William Habington (1605-1654)

Nox Nocti Indicat Scientiam

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
   And heav’nward 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-stretched power
Which his proud dangers traffic for
Is but the triumph of an hour;

That from the farthest north
   Some nation may
Yet undiscovered 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 watched since first
   The world had birth,
And found sin in itself accursed,
And nothing permanent on earth.