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Thou Art Indeed Just, Lord, If I Contend

Justus quidem tu es, Dominie, si disputem tecum

Verumtamen justa 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 gritty 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.

Spring and Fall: To a Young Child

Márgarét, are you gríeving

Over Goldengrove ­unleaving?

Leáves, líke the things of man, you

With your fresh thoughts care for, can ­you?

Ah!  ás the heart grows older

It will come to such sights colder

By and by, nor spare a sigh

Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;

And yet you wíll weep and know ­why.

Now no matter, child, the name:

Só­rrow’s spríngs áre the ­same.

Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed

What heart heard of, ghost guessed:

It ís the blight man was born for,

It is Margaret you mourn ­for.

Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844–1889) was a British Jesuit priest who was frustrated by what he saw as a conflict beween his religious commitment and his poetic ambitions and, later, by the overwhelming number and deadening nature of student examinations he had to grade as a university administrator. The quote Justus quidem is from Jeremiah 12-1:1, wherein Jeremiah asks God, “Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all the faithless live at ease?” The poem was written a few months before the ­poet’s death. Although almost none of his poetry was published during his lifetime, Hopkins is now considered a towering figure in English poetry.

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