Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844–1889): Thou art indeed just, Lord, if I contend

Translated by Timothy Adès

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.

iustus es, Omnipotens, si per discrimina tecum
    contendam; tamen haec altera iusta loquar.
cur est pravorum via prospera? cur ego fallor
    omnibus inceptis, spesque caduca perit?
num peius, si tu meus hostis, amice, fuisses,
    laederer? et tantas ferre necesse moras?
florent, quos agitat vacua et vinosa libido;
    sed mea languescit dedita vita tibi.
en ubi praetexta scandice et murride serta
    frondibus et densis ripa rubusque virent,
egelidusque movet Zephyrus, texuntque volucres;
    texit avis, sed mi deest avis instar opus:
nitor ego sterilis. radicibus implue, vitae
    tu Domine, ut mea sit denique viva seges.

Translation: Copyright © Timothy Adès

Published in the Balliol Record.

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