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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

William Habington (1605–1654)

Night unto Night Showeth Forth Knowledge

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,

The almighty 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.