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- Watchers of the Sky - 24/24 -


Upon the distant clock-tower of his church, Could dream of this, our hundred-inch, that shows The snow upon the polar caps of Mars Whitening and darkening as the seasons change? Or who could dream when Galileo watched His moons of Jupiter, that from their eclipses And from that change in their appointed times, Now late, now early, as the watching earth Farther or nearer on its orbit rolled, The immeasurable speed of light at last Should be reduced to measure? Could Newton dream When, through his prism, he broke the pure white shaft Into that rainbow band, how men should gather And disentangle ray by delicate ray The colours of the stars,--not only those That burn in heaven, but those that long since perished, Those vanished suns that eyes can still behold, The strange lost stars whose light still reaches earth Although they died ten thousand years ago. Here, night by night, the innumerable heavens Speak to an eye more sensitive than man's, Write on the camera's delicate retina A thousand messages, lines of dark and bright That speak of elements unknown on earth. How shall men doubt, who thus can read the Book Of Judgment, and transcend both Space and Time, Analyse worlds that long since passed away, And scan the future, how shall they doubt His power From whom their power and all creation came?"

I think that, when the second Herschel tried Those great hexameters in our English tongue, A nobler shield than ever Achilles knew Shone through the song and made his echoes live:

_"There he depicted the earth, and the canopied sky, and the sea-waves, There the unwearied sun, and the full-orbed moon in their courses, All the configured stars that gem the circuit of heaven, Pleiads and Hyads were there and the giant force of Orion, There the revolving Bear, which the Wain they call, was ensculptured, Circling on high, and in all his courses regarding Orion, Sole of the starry train that descends not to bathe in the ocean!"_

A nobler shield for us, a deeper sky; But even to us who know how far away Those constellations burn, the wonder bides That each vast sun can speed through the abyss Age after age more swiftly than an eagle, Each on its different road, alone like ours With its own satellites; yet, since Homer sang, Their aspect has not altered! All their flight Has not yet changed the old pattern of the Wain. The sword-belt of Orion is not sundered. Nor has one fugitive splendour broken yet From Cassiopeia's throne. A thousand years Are but as yesterday, even unto these. How shall men doubt His empery over time Whose dwelling is a deep so absolute That we can only find Him in our souls. For there, despite Copernicus, each may find The centre of all things. There He lives and reigns. There infinite distance into nearness grows, And infinite majesty stoops to dust again; All things in little, infinite love in man . . . Oh, beating wings, descend to earth once more, And hear, reborn, the desert singer's cry: _When I consider the heavens, the work of Thy fingers, The sun and the moon and the stars which Thou hast ordained, Though man be as dust I know Thou art mindful of him; And, through Thy law, Thy light still visiteth him._

THE END


Watchers of the Sky - 24/24

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