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  Honest John  

 

He was a man whose lot was cast,
    As some might think, in lines severe;
In humble toil whose life was passed
    From week to week, from year to year;
And yet, by wife and children blessed,
He labored on with cheerful zest.

As one revered and set apart,
    A quaint, unusual name he bore
That well became the frugal heart;
    While plain habiliments he wore
Without a tremor or a chill
At thought of some uncanceled bill.

A king might not disdain to wear
    The title so appropriate
To one who never sought to share
    Exalted station 'mong the great,
Nor cared if on the scroll of fame
Were never traced his worthy name.

As bound by honor's righteous law
    In strictest rectitude he wrought--
The man who calmly, clearly saw
    His duty, and who dallied not--
To garner life's necessities
For those whose comfort heightened his.

The parent bird its brood protects
    As fledglings in their downy nest,
Until a Power their flight directs
    From trial trips to distant quest,
Through trackless zones of ether blue,
For bird companions strange and new.

But ere his babes from prattlers grew,
    Upon his knee or by his side,
To womanhood and manhood true--
    Too soon we thought--the father died;
How could we know, when Death was nigh
Those little wings were taught to fly?

Another name his boyhood knew,
    So seldom heard that lapse of years
Had made it seem a thing untrue,
    Unmusical to friendly ears;
And thus his appellation odd
His passport was where'er he trod.

So long, on every lip and tongue
    As if by universal whim,
To him had his cognomen clung,
    And like a garment fitted him,
That angels even must have heard
Of one, like them, in love preferred.

And when he came to Heaven's door,
    To Peter's self or acolyte,
The holy warder looking o'er,
    "'Tis 'Honest John!'" he said aright;
And his pilgrim spirit passed within
Because his walk with God had been.

       - Hattie Howard


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