'Thou art indeed just, Lord, if I contend'

By Gerard Manley Hopkins 1844–1889 Gerard Manley Hopkins

Justus quidem tu es, Domine, si disputem tecum; verumtamen
justa loquar ad te: Quare via impiorum prosperatur? &c.

Thou art indeed just, Lord, if I contend
With thee; but, sir, so what I plead is just.
Why do sinners’ ways prosper? and why must
Disappointment all I endeavour end?
    Wert thou my enemy, O thou my friend,
How wouldst thou worse, I wonder, than thou dost
Defeat, thwart me? Oh, the sots and thralls of lust
Do in spare hours more thrive than I that spend,
Sir, life upon thy cause. See, banks and brakes
Now, leavèd how thick! lacèd they are again
With fretty chervil, look, and fresh wind shakes
Them; birds build – but not I build; no, but strain,
Time’s eunuch, and not breed one work that wakes.
Mine, O thou lord of life, send my roots rain.

Source: Gerard Manley Hopkins: Poems and Prose (Penguin Classics, 1985)

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Poet Gerard Manley Hopkins 1844–1889

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Victorian

Subjects Faith & Doubt, Religion, Living, Disappointment & Failure, God & the Divine

Poetic Terms Sonnet

 Gerard  Manley Hopkins

Biography

Gerard Manley Hopkins is one of the three or four greatest poets of the Victorian era. He is regarded by different readers as the greatest Victorian poet of religion, of nature, or of melancholy. However, because his style was so radically different from that of his contemporaries, his best poems were not accepted for publication during his lifetime, and his achievement was not fully recognized until after World War I.

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Faith & Doubt, Religion, Living, Disappointment & Failure, God & the Divine

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Victorian

Poetic Terms Sonnet

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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