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Sappho and Her Friends: The Poetry Thread


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Autumn Thoughts, by John Greeleaf Whittier


Gone hath the Spring, with all its flowers,

And gone the Summer's pomp and show,

And Autumn, in his leafless bowers, 

Is waiting for the Winter's snow. 


I said to Earth, so cold and gray, 
'An emblem of myself thou art.' 
'Not so,' the Earth did seem to say, 
'For Spring shall warm my frozen heart.' 
I soothe my wintry sleep with dreams 
Of warmer sun and softer rain, 
And wait to hear the sound of streams 
And songs of merry birds again. 

But thou, from whom the Spring hath gone, 
For whom the flowers no longer blow, 
Who standest blighted and forlorn, 
Like Autumn waiting for the snow; 

No hope is thine of sunnier hours, 
Thy Winter shall no more depart; 
No Spring revive thy wasted flowers, 
Nor Summer warm thy frozen heart.

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By Kenneth G. Small


Here comes little Donny;

With a small ukelele with a crank on it's side;

And Billy follows up with a whistle that has a long metal slide!

Joey leads with his big tub drum with undeniable pride;

Eddie has an ocarina that he plays loud and true;

while tommy follows closely humming into his Ace comb kazoo!


Others join in with holiday noisemakers;

pots and pans and wood blocks on feet;

Garbage can lids, galvanized pipe and  cardboard boxes so neat;

You can hear them coming a mile away, but but somehow the music is sweet;

When you hear it played in any which-way;

By the marching band of 7th street!




By Kenneth G. Small


Jelly doughnuts!

You can't help but share them...

You give a little taste to your nose;

Your new shirt, your forehead and hair;

the tops of your shoes, and

the living room chair. 

Mom gives you ONE and before you know it;

there's jelly doughnut EVERYWHERE!


You can't help but share them!




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  • 4 weeks later...

Just back from London, and it's on my mind. Here's a poem about it:
Composed upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802. By William Wordsworth

Earth hath not anything to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty
This City now doth, like a garment, wear
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky;
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
Never did sun more beautifully steep
In his first splendor, valley, rock, or hill;
Ne’er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!
The river glideth at his own sweet will:
Dear God! The very houses seem asleep;
And all that mighty heart is lying still!

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by Kenneth G. Small



Three O'clock, Three O'clock!


Lor' Lor';

Keep me from the fact'ry door;


Here come the charge of the light brigade;

with ID sheild and thermos sword.


wreckless and determined spillage;

headed towards who KNOWS what pillage!


Three O'clock, Three O'clock,

Lor', Lor'!

KEEP me from the fact'ry door!





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Unending Love

by Rabindranath Tagore

I seem to have loved you in numberless forms, numberless times…
In life after life, in age after age, forever.
My spellbound heart has made and remade the necklace of songs,
That you take as a gift, wear round your neck in your many forms,
In life after life, in age after age, forever.

Whenever I hear old chronicles of love, its age-old pain,
Its ancient tale of being apart or together.
As I stare on and on into the past, in the end you emerge,
Clad in the light of a pole-star piercing the darkness of time:
You become an image of what is remembered forever.

You and I have floated here on the stream that brings from the fount.
At the heart of time, love of one for another.
We have played along side millions of lovers, shared in the same
Shy sweetness of meeting, the same distressful tears of farewell-
Old love but in shapes that renew and renew forever.

Today it is heaped at your feet, it has found its end in you
The love of all man’s days both past and forever:
Universal joy, universal sorrow, universal life.
The memories of all loves merging with this one love of ours –
And the songs of every poet past and forever.


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      John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892)


                        The Pumpkin


    OH, greenly and fair in the lands of the sun, 
    The vines of the gourd and the rich melon run, 
    And the rock and the tree and the cottage enfold, 
    With broad leaves all greenness and blossoms all gold, 
    Like that which o'er Nineveh's prophet once grew, 
    While he waited to know that his warning was true, 
    And longed for the storm-cloud, and listened in vain 
    For the rush of the whirlwind and red fire-rain.


    On the banks of the Xenil the dark Spanish maiden 
    Comes up with the fruit of the tangled vine laden; 
    And the Creole of Cuba laughs out to behold 
    Through orange-leaves shining the broad spheres of gold; 
    Yet with dearer delight from his home in the North, 
    On the fields of his harvest the Yankee looks forth, 
    Where crook-necks are coiling and yellow fruit shines, 
    And the sun of September melts down on his vines.


    Ah! on Thanksgiving day, when from East and from West, 
    From North and from South come the pilgrim and guest, 
    When the gray-haired New Englander sees round his board 
    The old broken links of affection restored, 
    When the care-wearied man seeks his mother once more, 
    And the worn matron smiles where the girl smiled before, 
    What moistens the lip and what brightens the eye? 
    What calls back the past, like the rich Pumpkin pie?


    Oh, fruit loved of boyhood! the old days recalling, 
    When wood-grapes were purpling and brown nuts were falling! 
    When wild, ugly faces we carved in its skin, 
    Glaring out through the dark with a candle within! 
    When we laughed round the corn-heap, with hearts all in tune, 
    Our chair a broad pumpkin,—our lantern the moon, 
    Telling tales of the fairy who travelled like steam, 
    In a pumpkin-shell coach, with two rats for her team!


    Then thanks for thy present! none sweeter or better 
    E'er smoked from an oven or circled a platter! 
    Fairer hands never wrought at a pastry more fine, 
    Brighter eyes never watched o'er its baking, than thine! 
    And the prayer, which my mouth is too full to express, 
    Swells my heart that thy shadow may never be less, 
    That the days of thy lot may be lengthened below, 
    And the fame of thy worth like a pumpkin-vine grow, 
    And thy life be as sweet, and its last sunset sky 
    Golden-tinted and fair as thy own Pumpkin pie!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Woods in Winter

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow1807 - 1882
When winter winds are piercing chill,
And through the hawthorn blows the gale,
With solemn feet I tread the hill,
That overbrows the lonely vale.

O’er the bare upland, and away
Through the long reach of desert woods,
The embracing sunbeams chastely play,
And gladden these deep solitudes.

Where, twisted round the barren oak,
The summer vine in beauty clung,
And summer winds the stillness broke,
The crystal icicle is hung.

Where, from their frozen urns, mute springs
Pour out the river’s gradual tide,
Shrilly the skater’s iron rings,
And voices fill the woodland side.

Alas! how changed from the fair scene,
When birds sang out their mellow lay,
And winds were soft, and woods were green,
And the song ceased not with the day!

But still wild music is abroad,
Pale, desert woods! within your crowd;
And gathering winds, in hoarse accord,
Amid the vocal reeds pipe loud.

Chill airs and wintry winds! my ear
Has grown familiar with your song;
I hear it in the opening year,
I listen, and it cheers me long.
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Carl Sandburg


Look out how you use proud words;


When you let proud words go


it is not easy to call them back;


They wear long boots, hard boots;

They walk off proud and can't hear you calling;


Watch out how you use proud words.

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 1 month later...

Here, Sailor

By Walt Whitman


WHAT ship, puzzled at sea, cons for the true reckoning?

Or, coming in, to avoid the bars, and follow the channel, a perfect pilot needs?
Here, sailor! Here, ship! take aboard the most perfect pilot,
Whom, in a little boat, putting off, and rowing, I, hailing you, offer.


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  • 4 weeks later...

From the Bible, "The Song of Solomon," Chapter 2,  a beautiful verse that has given us four play/movie titles (which I've noted in bold):


1 am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys.

2 As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters.

3 As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste.

4 He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.

5 Stay me with flagons, comfort me with apples: for I am sick of love.

6 His left hand is under my head, and his right hand doth embrace me.

7 I charge you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes, and by the hinds of the field, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, till he please.

8 The voice of my beloved! behold, he cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills.

9 My beloved is like a roe or a young hart: behold, he standeth behind our wall, he looketh forth at the windows, shewing himself through the lattice.

10 My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.

11 For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone;

12 The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land;

13 The fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.

14 O my dove, that art in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs, let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely.

15 Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes.

16 My beloved is mine, and I am his: he feedeth among the lilies.

17 Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, turn, my beloved, and be thou like a roe or a young hart upon the mountains of Bether.

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  • 2 months later...
The Jumblies


They went to sea in a Sieve, they did,
   In a Sieve they went to sea:
In spite of all their friends could say,
On a winter’s morn, on a stormy day,
   In a Sieve they went to sea!
And when the Sieve turned round and round,
And every one cried, ‘You’ll all be drowned!’
They called aloud, ‘Our Sieve ain’t big,
But we don’t care a button! we don’t care a fig!
   In a Sieve we’ll go to sea!’
      Far and few, far and few,
         Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
      Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,
         And they went to sea in a Sieve.
They sailed away in a Sieve, they did,
   In a Sieve they sailed so fast,
With only a beautiful pea-green veil
Tied with a riband by way of a sail,
   To a small tobacco-pipe mast;
And every one said, who saw them go,
‘O won’t they be soon upset, you know!
For the sky is dark, and the voyage is long,
And happen what may, it’s extremely wrong
   In a Sieve to sail so fast!’
      Far and few, far and few,
         Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
      Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,
         And they went to sea in a Sieve.
The water it soon came in, it did,
   The water it soon came in;
So to keep them dry, they wrapped their feet
In a pinky paper all folded neat,
   And they fastened it down with a pin.
And they passed the night in a crockery-jar,
And each of them said, ‘How wise we are!
Though the sky be dark, and the voyage be long,
Yet we never can think we were rash or wrong,
   While round in our Sieve we spin!’
      Far and few, far and few,
         Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
      Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,
         And they went to sea in a Sieve.
And all night long they sailed away;
   And when the sun went down,
They whistled and warbled a moony song
To the echoing sound of a coppery gong,
   In the shade of the mountains brown.
‘O Timballo! How happy we are,
When we live in a sieve and a crockery-jar,
And all night long in the moonlight pale,
We sail away with a pea-green sail,
   In the shade of the mountains brown!’
      Far and few, far and few,
         Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
     Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,
         And they went to sea in a Sieve.
They sailed to the Western Sea, they did,
   To a land all covered with trees,
And they bought an Owl, and a useful Cart,
And a pound of Rice, and a Cranberry Tart,
   And a hive of silvery Bees.
And they bought a Pig, and some green Jack-daws,
And a lovely Monkey with lollipop paws,
And forty bottles of Ring-Bo-Ree,
   And no end of Stilton Cheese.
      Far and few, far and few,
         Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
      Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,
         And they went to sea in a Sieve.
And in twenty years they all came back,
   In twenty years or more,
And every one said, ‘How tall they’ve grown!’
For they’ve been to the Lakes, and the Torrible Zone,
   And the hills of the Chankly Bore;
And they drank their health, and gave them a feast
Of dumplings made of beautiful yeast;
And everyone said, ‘If we only live,
We too will go to sea in a Sieve,—
   To the hills of the Chankly Bore!’
      Far and few, far and few,
         Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
      Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,
         And they went to sea in a Sieve.
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  • 4 weeks later...


by John Greenleaf Whittier

This poem was written in strict conformity to the account of the incident as I had it from respectable and trustworthy sources. It has since been the subject of a good deal of conflicting testimony, and the story was probably incorrect in some of its details. It is admitted by all that Barbara Frietchie was no myth, but a worthy and highly esteemed gentlewoman, intensely loyal and a hater of the Slavery Rebellion, holding her Union flag sacred and keeping it with her Bible; that when the Confederates halted before her house, and entered her dooryard, she denounced them in vigorous language, shook her cane in their faces, and drove them out; and when General Burnside's troops followed close upon Jackson's, she waved her flag and cheered them. It is stated that May Qnantrell, a brave and loyal lady in another part of the city, did wave her flag in sight of the Confederates. It is possible that there has been a blending of the two incidents.


Up from the meadows rich with corn,
Clear in the cool September morn.

The clustered spires of Frederick stand
Green-walled by the hills of Maryland.

Round about them orchards sweep,
Apple and peach tree fruited deep,

Fair as the garden of the Lord
To the eyes of the famished rebel horde,

On that pleasant morn of the early fall
When Lee marched over the mountain-wall;

Over the mountains winding down,
Horse and foot, into Frederick town.

Forty flags with their silver stars,
Forty flags with their crimson bars,

Flapped in the morning wind: the sun
Of noon looked down, and saw not one.

Up rose old Barbara Frietchie then,
Bowed with her fourscore years and ten;

Bravest of all in Frederick town,
She took up the flag the men hauled down;

In her attic window the staff she set,
To show that one heart was loyal yet.

Up the street came the rebel tread,
Stonewall Jackson riding ahead.

Under his slouched hat left and right
He glanced; the old flag met his sight.

"Halt!"—the dust-brown ranks stood fast.
"Fire!"—out blazed the rifle-blast.

It shivered the window, pane and sash;
It rent the banner with seam and gash.

Quick, as it fell, from the broken staff
Dame Barbara snatched the silken scarf.

She leaned far out on the window-sill,
And shook it forth with a royal will.

"Shoot, if you must, this old gray head,
But spare your country's flag," she said.

A shade of sadness, a blush of shame,
Over the face of the leader came;

The nobler nature within him stirred
To life at that woman's deed and word.

"Who touches a hair of yon gray head
Dies like a dog! March on!" he said.

All day long through Frederick street
Sounded the tread of marching feet.

All day long that free flag tost
Over the heads of the rebel host.

Ever its torn folds rose and fell
On the loyal winds that loved it well;

And through the hill-gaps sunset light
Shone over it with a warm good-night.

Barbara Frietchie's work is o'er,
And the Rebel rides on his raids no more.

Honor to her! and let a tear
Fall, for her sake, on Stonewall's bier.

Over Barbara Frietchie's grave,
Flag of Freedom and Union, wave!

Peace and order and beauty draw
Round thy symbol of light and law;

And ever the stars above look down
On thy stars below in Frederick town!


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  • 1 month later...

As it prepares to leave us, a poem about July, by George Meredith:


Blue July, bright July, 
Month of storms and gorgeous blue; 
Violet lightnings o'er thy sky, 
Heavy falls of drenching dew; 
Summer crown! o'er glen and glade 
Shrinking hyacinths in their shade; 
I welcome thee with all thy pride, 
I love thee like an Eastern bride. 
Though all the singing days are done 
As in those climes that clasp the sun; 
Though the cuckoo in his throat 
Leaves to the dove his last twin note; 
Come to me with thy lustrous eye, 
Golden-dawning oriently, 
Come with all thy shining blooms, 
Thy rich red rose and rolling glooms. 
Though the cuckoo doth but sing 'cuk, cuk,' 
And the dove alone doth coo; 
Though the cushat spins her coo-r-roo, r-r-roo - 
To the cuckoo's halting 'cuk.' 

Sweet July, warm July! 
Month when mosses near the stream, 
Soft green mosses thick and shy, 
Are a rapture and a dream. 
Summer Queen! whose foot the fern 
Fades beneath while chestnuts burn; 
I welcome thee with thy fierce love, 
Gloom below and gleam above. 
Though all the forest trees hang dumb, 
With dense leafiness o'ercome; 
Though the nightingale and thrush, 
Pipe not from the bough or bush; 
Come to me with thy lustrous eye, 
Azure-melting westerly, 
The raptures of thy face unfold, 
And welcome in thy robes of gold! 
Tho' the nightingale broods—'sweet-chuck-sweet' - 
And the ouzel flutes so chill, 
Tho' the throstle gives but one shrilly trill 
To the nightingale's 'sweet-sweet.'
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  • 3 weeks later...

"Blue Remembered Hills," from A Shropshire Lad XL
by A. E. Housman, 1859 - 1936

Into my heart an air that kills
From yon far country blows:
What are those blue remembered hills,
What spires, what farms are those?

That is the land of lost content,
I see it shining plain,
The happy highways where I went
And cannot come again.

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  • 2 weeks later...

The Grasshopper and the Ant


The grasshopper, after singing

all summer long

found she was low on provisions

when the wintry north wind arrived.

Not a single little bit

of fly or wormlet to eat.


She cried hunger to the home of her neighbor,

the ant

asking her to lend a few grains until springtime.

"I'll pay you," she said,

"before harvest time, on my word as animal,

both interest and principal."


The ant wasn't the lending kind,

If she had a fault, it wasn't that one.


"What were you doing during the warm weather?"

she asked the borrower.

"Night and day I would sing to all and sundry,

if it so please you, good ma'am."

"Singing were you now, oh so glad to hear.

Well now, why don't you dance."


Jean de la Fontaine (1621-1695)


[trans. by Stanley Appelbaum, with an assist by laffite]



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  • 3 weeks later...
The Owl and the ****-Cat


The Owl and the ****-cat went to sea 
   In a beautiful pea-green boat, 
They took some honey, and plenty of money, 
   Wrapped up in a five-pound note. 
The Owl looked up to the stars above, 
   And sang to a small guitar, 
"O lovely ****! O ****, my love, 
    What a beautiful **** you are, 
         You are, 
         You are! 
What a beautiful **** you are!" 

**** said to the Owl, "You elegant fowl! 
   How charmingly sweet you sing! 
O let us be married! too long we have tarried: 
   But what shall we do for a ring?" 
They sailed away, for a year and a day, 
   To the land where the Bong-Tree grows 
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood 
   With a ring at the end of his nose, 
             His nose, 
             His nose, 
   With a ring at the end of his nose. 

"Dear Pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling 
   Your ring?" Said the Piggy, "I will." 
So they took it away, and were married next day 
   By the Turkey who lives on the hill. 
They dined on mince, and slices of quince, 
   Which they ate with a runcible spoon;   
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand, 
   They danced by the light of the moon, 
             The moon, 
             The moon, 
They danced by the light of the moon.
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Ascending Chords
By Monica Goldberg

The angel touches the child on the upper lip just as it is born

During Kol Nidre
my lips
the resolution
of past notes
so clearly that
I almost
hear one
of history
flying borders
in new beats
and broken time.

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Autumn Sunshine by D.H. Lawrence 


The sun sets out the autumn crocuses

        And fills them up a pouring measure
        Of death-producing wine, till treasure
    Runs waste down their chalices.

    All, all Persephone's pale cups of mould
        Are on the board, are over-filled;
        The portion to the gods is spilled;
    Now, mortals all, take hold!

    The time is now, the wine-cup full and full
        Of lambent heaven, a pledging-cup;
        Let now all mortal men take up
    The drink, and a long, strong pull.

    Out of the hell-queen's cup, the heaven's pale wine -
        Drink then, invisible heroes, drink.
        Lips to the vessels, never shrink,
    Throats to the heavens incline.

    And take within the wine the god's great oath
        By heaven and earth and hellish stream
        To break this sick and nauseous dream
    We writhe and lust in, both.

    Swear, in the pale wine poured from the cups of the queen
        Of hell, to wake and be free
        From this nightmare we writhe in,
    Break out of this foul has-been.

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  • 1 month later...

For Halloween:


Macbeth (excerpt)

by William Shakespeare


First Witch

Round about the cauldron go;

In the poison'd entrails throw.

Toad, that under cold stone

Days and nights has thirty-one

Swelter'd venom sleeping got,

Boil thou first i' the charmed pot.



Double, double toil and trouble;

Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.


Second Witch

Fillet of a fenny snake,

In the cauldron boil and bake;

Eye of newt and toe of frog,

Wool of bat and tongue of dog,

Adder's fork and blind-worm's sting,

Lizard's leg and owlet's wing,

For a charm of powerful trouble,

Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.



Double, double toil and trouble;

Fire burn and cauldron bubble.


Third Witch

Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf,

Witches' mummy, maw and gulf

Of the ravin'd salt-sea shark,

Root of hemlock digg'd i' the dark,

Liver of blaspheming Jew,

Gall of goat, and slips of yew

Silver'd in the moon's eclipse,

Nose of Turk and Tartar's lips,

Finger of birth-strangled babe

Ditch-deliver'd by a drab,

Make the gruel thick and slab:

Add thereto a tiger's chaudron,

For the ingredients of our cauldron.



Double, double toil and trouble;

Fire burn and cauldron bubble.


Second Witch

Cool it with a baboon's blood,

Then the charm is firm and good.

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The Fifth of November


    Remember, remember!  
    The fifth of November, 
    The Gunpowder treason and plot; 
    I know of no reason 
    Why the Gunpowder treason 
    Should ever be forgot! 
    Guy Fawkes and his companions 
    Did the scheme contrive, 
    To blow the King and Parliament 
    All up alive. 
    Threescore barrels, laid below, 
    To prove old England's overthrow. 
    But, by God's providence, him they catch, 
    With a dark lantern, lighting a match! 
    A stick and a stake  
    For King James's sake! 
    If you won't give me one, 
    I'll take two, 
    The better for me, 
    And the worse for you. 
    A rope, a rope, to hang the Pope, 
    A penn'orth of cheese to choke him, 
    A pint of beer to wash it down, 
    And a jolly good fire to burn him. 
    Holloa, boys! holloa, boys! make the bells ring! 
    Holloa, boys! holloa boys! God save the King! 
    Hip, hip, hooor-r-r-ray!

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  • 2 weeks later...

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