Gems from the Old English Poets.

Night Showeth Knowledge.

When I survey the bright1
Celestial sphere,2
So rich with jewels hung, that night3
Doth like an Ethiop bride appear ;4
My soul her wings doth spread,5
And heavenward flies,6
The Almighty’s mysteries to read7
In the large volumes of the skies.8
For the bright firmament9
Shoots forth no flame10
So silent, but is eloquent11
In speaking the Creator’s name.12
No unregarded star13
Contracts its light14
Into so small a character,15
Remov’d far from our human sight ;16
But if we steadfast look17
We shall discern18
In it, as in some holy book,19
How man may heavenly knowledge learn.20
It tells the conqueror,21
That far-stretched power,22
Which his proud dangers traffic for,23
Is but the triumph of an hour.24
That, from the farthest north,25
Some nation may26
Yet undiscovered issue forth,27
And o’er his new-got conquest sway.28
Some nation, yet shut in29
With hills of ice,30
May be let out to scourge his sin,31
Till they shall equal him in vice.32
And then they likewise shall33
Their ruin have ;34
For as yourselves your empires fall,35
And every kingdom hath a grave.36
Thus those celestial fires,37
Though seeming mute,38
The fallacy of our desires,39
And all the pride of life, confute.40
For they have watch’d since first41
The world had birth ;42
And found sin in itself accurst,43
And nothing permanent on earth.44