Synopsis of Thou Art Indeed Just, Lord

Final poems

Hopkins dated this sonnet March 17, 1889, when he sent it to his friend Robert Bridges. As Hopkins died in June of the same year, it is thus one of the last three completed poems he ever wrote. He had been in Dublin five years as Professor of Greek at University College, a period of time he described a little earlier as ‘five wasted years….I am ashamed of the little I have done, of my waste of time, although my helplessness and weakness is such that I could scarcely do otherwise'.

There is about the sonnet some of the frustration of ‘the terrible sonnets' of 1885, but not the depths of despair some of those sounded. The very fact he is arguing with God suggests he knows God is there to be argued with. And certainly the prayer request at the end suggests a possibility it may be answered.

Of course, in one way it is: a poem is written, which we read to-day as an example of how God can be argued with as well as an expression of our own lack of progress or creativity. This ties in with biographical accounts of Hopkins' five years in Dublin. Though seeming depressed beyond measure in some of the poems and journals, yet he still managed to live a full life of teaching, socializing, and pursuing interests, as well as fulfilling his obligations to the Society of Jesus, despite bouts of ill health. We need to explore what deeper goals Hopkins felt he was not achieving.

Investigating Thou Art Indeed Just
  • Pick out words and phrases that convey Hopkins' depression and frustration in the poem
Related material
Scan and go

Scan on your mobile for direct link.