In Bay Street: (Nassau, N. P.)

“ 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,
All keepsakes from the sea ;
’T is choose and buy what takes the eye,
In such a treasury.”
“ ’T is none of these, John Camplejohn,
Though curious they be,
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
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 ?
“ 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,
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,
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,
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.
“ 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
From countries oversea,
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,
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
Could sell that power to thee.”
“ ’T is sorry news, John Camplejohn,
If this be destiny,
That every mart should know that art,
Yet none can sell it me.
“ 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, —
No less! And as for me,
Give me the pay of an idle day
In Bay Street by the sea.”
Bliss Carman