Ballads and Lyrics

by Bliss Carman


 

IN BAY STREET


 

"WHAT do you sell, John Camplejohn,
In Bay Street by the sea?"
"Oh, turtle shell is what I sell,
In great variety:

"Trinkets and combs and rosaries,

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All keepsakes from the sea;
’T is choose and buy what takes the eye,
In such a treasury."

"’Tis none of these, John Camplejohn,
Though curious they be,

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But something more I’m looking for,
In Bay Street by the sea.

"Where can I buy the magic charm
Of the Bahaman sea,
That fills mankind with peace of mind

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And soul’s felicity?

"Now, what do you sell, John Camplejohn,
In Bay Street by the sea,
Tinged with that true and native blue
Of lapis lazuli?

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"Look from your door, and tell me now
The color of the sea.
Where can I buy that wondrous dye,
And take it home with me?

"And where can I buy that rustling sound,

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In this city by the sea,
Of the plumy palms in their high blue calms;
Or the stately poise and free

"Of the bearers who go up and down,
Silent as mystery,

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Burden on head, with naked tread,
In the white streets by the sea?

"And where can I buy, John Camplejohn,
In Bay Street by the sea,
The sunlight’s fall on the old pink wall,

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Or the gold of the orange-tree?"

"Ah, that is more than I’ve heard tell
In Bay Street by the sea,
Since I began, my roving man,
A trafficker to be.

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"As sure as I’m John Camplejohn,
And Bay Street’s by the sea,
Those things for gold have not been sold,
Within my memory.

"But what would you give, my roving man

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From countries over-sea,
For the things you name, the life of the same,
And the power to bid them be?"

"I’d give my hand, John Camplejohn,
In Bay Street by the sea,

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For the smallest dower of that dear power
To paint the things I see."

"My roving man, I never heard,
On any land or sea
Under the sun, of any one

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Could sell that power to thee."

"’Tis sorry news, John Camplejohn,
If this be destiny,
That every mart should know that art,
Yet none can sell it me.

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"But look you, here’s the grace of God:
There’s neither price nor fee,
Duty nor toll, that can control
The power to love and see.

"To each his luck, John Camplejohn,

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Say I. And as for me,
Give me the pay of an idle day
In Bay Street by the sea."