"Buy,--who'll buy?" In the market-place,
Out of the market din and clatter,
The quack with his puckered persuasive face
Patters away in the ancient patter.
"Buy,--who'll buy? In this flask I hold--
In this little flask that I tap with my stick, Sir--
Is the famed, infallible Water of Gold,--
The One, Original, True Elixir!
"Buy--who'll buy? There's a maiden there,--
She with the ell-long flaxen tresses,--
Here is a draught that will make you fair,
Fit for an emperor's own caresses!
"Buy,--who'll buy? Are you old and gray?
Drink but of this, and in less than a minute,
Lo! you will dance like the flowers in May,
Chirp and chirk like a new-fledged linnet!
"Buy,--who'll buy? Is a baby ill?
Drop but a drop of this in his throttle,
Straight he will gossip and gorge his fill,
Brisk as a burgher over a bottle!
"Here is wealth for your life,--if you will but ask;
Here is health for your limb, without lint or lotion;
Here is all that you lack, in this tiny flask;
And the price is a couple of silver groschen!
"Buy,--who'll buy?" So the tale runs on:
And still in the great world's market-places
The Quack, with his quack catholicon,
Finds ever his crowd of upturned faces;
For he plays on our hearts with his pipe and drum,
On our vague regret, on our weary yearning;
For he sells the thing that never can come,
Or the thing that has vanished, past returning.