Gezelle wrote the poem Aan u voorwaar had menig man (Truly to You Many a Man) at the request of Edward Van Robays, teacher and collaborator of his periodicals. On September 16th, 1887, Van Robays wrote that his father was dying. As a carpenter "he had made so many coffins for others and now he is laying in the same sad bed.” In the poem Gezelle is inspired by the details from the request.
In his letter of thanks, Van Robays included a number of copies and reported that his mother and the rest of the family were very happy. In the same period Gezelle also used the text for another carpenter from Courtrai and he also included it in the next issue of Churchyard Flowers.