Thou Art Indeed Just, Lord

Study from Nature: Rocks and Trees. Asher Brown Durand. 1836.


Thou Art Indeed Just, Lord

Gerard Manley Hopkins, 1889


Righteous art Thou, O Lord, when I complain to Thee, yet I would plead my case before Thee. Why does the way of the wicked prosper?—Jeremiah 12:1


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 endeavor end?

 Wert thou my enemy, O thou my freind,

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, leavéd how thick! lacéd 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.


Hopkin’s poem is a translation and expansion of Jeremiah 12. Always prone to depression, the Jesuit priest and poet had come to feel that his life was wretched and that he had failed to accomplish anything lasting. The earliest manuscript of the poem is dated March 17 (St. Patrick’s Day), 1889. Hopkins died of typhoid fever less than three months later. Today, he is recognized as a poet of enduring quality, the writer of such classics as “Spring and Fall,” “The Windhover,” “The Grandeur of God,” and “Pied Beauty.”

3 thoughts on “Thou Art Indeed Just, Lord”

  1. Inspiring story! If only Hopkins could have seen the lasting impact he made on the world of poetry!

    1. I have really been enjoying the poems of Gerard Hopkins these past weeks. I look forward to posting his poem “The Windhover” in August; he presents an unusual but vivid picture of his own hidden worth.

      Truly, worth found in Christ will endure through Christ’s eternity.

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