Nonfiction > E.C. Stedman & E.M. Hutchinson, eds. > A Library of American Literature > 1835–1860
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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps.  A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes.  1891.
Vols. VI–VIII: Literature of the Republic, Part III., 1835–1860
 
Daniel Gray
By Josiah Gilbert Holland (1819–1881)
 
[From Complete Poetical Writings. 1879.]

IF I shall ever win the home in heaven
For whose sweet rest I humbly hope and pray,
In the great company of the forgiven
I shall be sure to find old Daniel Gray.
 
I knew him well; in truth, few knew him better;        5
For my young eyes oft read for him the Word,
And saw how meekly from the crystal letter
He drank the life of his beloved Lord.
 
Old Daniel Gray was not a man who lifted
On ready words his freight of gratitude,        10
Nor was he called as one among the gifted,
In the prayer-meetings of his neighborhood.
 
He had a few old-fashioned words and phrases,
Linked in with sacred texts and Sunday rhymes;
And I suppose that in his prayers and graces        15
I’ve heard them all at least a thousand times.
 
I see him now—his form, his face, his motions,
His homespun habit, and his silver hair,—
And hear the language of his trite devotions,
Rising behind the straight-backed kitchen chair.        20
 
I can remember how the sentence sounded—
“Help us, O Lord, to pray and not to faint!”
And how the “conquering and to conquer” rounded
The loftier aspirations of the saint.
 
He had some notions that did not improve him;        25
He never kissed his children—so they say;
And finest scenes and fairest flowers would move him
Less than a horse-shoe picked up in the way.
 
He had a hearty hatred of oppression,
And righteous words for sin of every kind;        30
Alas, that the transgressor and transgression
Were linked so closely in his honest mind!
 
He could see naught but vanity in beauty,
And naught but weakness in a fond caress,
And pitied men whose views of Christian duty        35
Allowed indulgence in such foolishness.
 
Yet there were love and tenderness within him;
And I am told that, when his Charley died,
Nor nature’s need nor gentle words could win him
From his fond vigils at the sleeper’s side.        40
 
And when they came to bury little Charley
They found fresh dew-drops sprinkled in his hair,
And on his breast a rose-bud gathered early,
And guessed, but did not know, who placed it there.
 
Honest and faithful, constant in his calling,        45
Strictly attendant on the means of grace,
Instant in prayer, and fearful most of falling,
Old Daniel Gray was always in his place.
 
A practical old man, and yet a dreamer,
He thought that in some strange, unlooked-for way        50
His mighty Friend in Heaven, the great Redeemer,
Would honor him with wealth some golden day.
 
This dream he carried in a hopeful spirit
Until in death his patient eye grew dim,
And his Redeemer called him to inherit        55
The heaven of wealth long garnered up for him.
 
So, if I ever win the home in heaven
For whose sweet rest I humbly hope and pray,
In the great company of the forgiven
I shall be sure to find old Daniel Gray.        60
 
 
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