Nox Nocti Indicat Scientiam

Original Text: 
William Habington, Castara, 3rd edn. (London: T. Cotes for W. Cooke, 1640). STC 12585
2    Celestial sphere,
3So rich with jewels hung, that night
5My soul her wings doth spread
6    And heavenward flies,
7Th' Almighty's mysteries to read
8    In the large volumes of the skies.
9For the bright firmament
10    Shoots forth no flame
11So silent, but is eloquent
12    In speaking the Creator's name.
13No unregarded star
14    Contracts its light
15Into so small a character,
16    Remov'd far from our human sight,
17But if we steadfast look,
18    We shall discern
19In it, as in some holy book,
20    How man may heavenly knowledge learn.
21It tells the conqueror
22    That far-stretch'd power
23Which his proud dangers traffic for,
24    Is but the triumph of an hour.
26    Some nation may
27Yet undiscovered, issue forth
28    And o'er his new-got conquest sway.
29Some nation yet shut in
30    With hills of ice
31May be let out to scourge his sin
32    Till they shall equal him in vice.
33And then they likewise shall
34    Their ruin have;
35For as yourselves, your empires fall,
36    And every kingdom hath a grave.
37Thus those celestial fires,
38    Though seeming mute,
39The fallacy of our desires
40    And all the pride of life confute.
41For they have watch'd since first
42    The world had birth;
43And found sin in itself accurst,
44    And nothing permanent on earth.


1] The title is from Psalms xix.2: "night unto night sheweth knowledge." Back to Line
4] Cf. Romeo and Juliet I.v.48-49. Back to Line
25] Cf. Jeremiah i.15. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
N. J. Endicott
RPO Edition: 
2RP.1.331; RPO 1996-2000.