|(Level 1) Distinguished Educator
“Thou Art Indeed Just, Lord” is one of a group of poems by Gerard Manley Hopkins known as the "terrible sonnets", a group of poems of religious despair, in which the poet struggles with a crisis of faith and simultaneous personal despair. Hopkins, an Anglican covert to Roman Catholicism, wrote these as a member of the Jesuit order living in Ireland where he struggled not only with personal unhappiness but with the awareness that despair was the worst of the mortal sins (cf. Dante’s Inferno).
Unlike many of his characteristic “curtail sonnets”, Hopkins’s “Thou Art Indeed Just, Lord” is a traditional Italian or Petrarchan sonnet, consisting of two open quatrains (rhymed ABBAABBA) and a sestet (CDCDCD). Although from Hopkins theoretical explanations of “sprung rhythm”, one might expect unusual or irregular meter, the lines are relatively regular iambic pentameter, albeit with a more frequent use of spondaic substitutions than is common in most English verse.