Verse > Anthologies > > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of Victorian Verse
Arthur Quiller-Couch, comp.  The Oxford Book of Victorian Verse.  1922.
The Merchantman
By John Davidson (1857–1909)
The Markethaunters
NOW, while our money is piping hot
  From the mint of our toil that coins the sheaves,
Merchantman, merchantman, what have you got
  In your tabernacle hung with leaves?
        What have you got?        5
          The sun rides high;
        Our money is hot;
          We must buy, buy, buy!
The Merchantman
I come from the elfin king’s demesne
  With chrysolite, hyacinth, tourmaline;        10
I have emeralds here of living green;
  I have rubies, each like a cup of wine;
And diamonds, diamonds that never have been
  Outshone by eyes the most divine!
The Markethaunters
Jewellery?—Baubles; bad for the soul;
  Desire of the heart and lust of the eye!
Diamonds, indeed! We wanted coal.
  What else do you sell? Come, sound your cry!
        Our money is hot;
          The night draws nigh;        20
        What have you got
          That we want to buy?
The Merchantman
I have here enshrined the soul of the rose
  Exhaled in the land of the daystar’s birth;
I have casks whose golden staves enclose        25
  Eternal youth, eternal mirth;
And cordials that bring repose,
  And the tranquil night, and the end of the earth.
The Markethaunters
Rapture of wine? But it never pays:
  We must keep our common-sense alert.        30
Raisins are healthier, medicine says—
  Raisins and almonds for dessert.
        But we want to buy;
          For our money is hot,
        And age draws nigh:        35
          What else have you got?
The Merchantman
I have lamps that gild the lustre of noon;
  Shadowy arrows that pierce the brain;
Dulcimers strung with beams of the moon;
  Psalteries fashion’d of pleasure and pain;        40
A song and a sword and a haunting tune
  That may never be offer’d the world again.
The Markethaunters
Dulcimers! psalteries! Whom do you mock?
  Arrows and songs? We have axes to grind!
Shut up your booth and your mouldering stock,        45
  For we never shall deal.—Come away; let us find
        What the others have got!
          We must buy, buy, buy;
        For our money is hot,
          And death draws nigh.        50

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