Old Irish Poems

The Charm by Samuel Lover Novelist, poet, musician and artist born in Dublin, Ireland 1797, died in 1868

(they say that a flower may be found in a valley opening to the West, which bestows on the finder the power of winning the affection of the person to whom it is presented. Hence, it is supposed, has originated the custom of presenting a bouquet.) They say there's a secret charm which lies In some wild floweret's bell, That grows in a vale where the west wind sighs, And where secrets best may dwell; And they who can find the fairy flower, A treasure possess that might grace a throne; For, oh! they can rule with the softest power The heart they would make their own. The Indian has toil'd in the dusky mine, For the gold that has made him a slave; Or, plucking the pearl from the sea-god's shrine, Has tempted the wrath of the wave; But ne'er has he sought, with a love like mine, The flower that holds the heart in thrall; Oh! rather I'd win that charm divine, Than their gold and their pearl and all. I've sought it by day, from morn till eve I've won it - in dreams at night; And then how I grieve my couch to leave, And sigh at the morning's light; Yet sometimes I think in a hopeful hour, The blissful moment I yet may see To win the fair flower from the fairy's bower And give it, love - to thee.


How to Ask and Have by Samuel Lover

"Oh, 'tis time I should talk to your mother, Sweet Mary," says I; "Oh, don't talk to my mother," says Mary, Beginning to cry, "For my mother says men are deceivers, And never, I know, will consent; She says all girls in a hurry to marry At leisure repent." "Then, suppose I would talk to your father, Sweet Mary," says I; "Oh, don't talk to my father," says Mary, Beginning to cry, "For my father, he loves me so dearly He'll never consent I should go - If you talk to my father," says Mary, "He'll surely say 'no'." "Then how shall I get you, my jewel? Sweet Mary," says I; "If your father and mother so cruel, Most surely I'll die!" "Oh, never say die, dear," says Mary; "A way now to save you, I see; Since my parents are both so contrary - You'd better ask me."


My Dark Haired Girl by Samuel Lover

My dark-hair'd girl, thy ringlets deck, In silken curl, thy graceful neck; Thy neck is like the swan, and fair as the pearl, And light as air the step is of my dark-haired girl. My dark-haired girl, upon thy lip The dainty bee might wish to sip; For thy lip it is the rose, and thy teeth they are pearl, And diamond is the eye of my dark-haired girl! My dark-haired girl, I've promised thee, And thou thy faith hast given to me, And oh, I would not change for the crown of an earl The pride of being loved by my dark-hair'd girl!


Song by Thomas Moore the greatest Irish lyrist born Dublin, 1779 - died 1852

Have you not seen the timid tear Steal trembling from mine eye? Have you not mark'd the flush of fear, Or caught the murmur'd sigh? And can you think my love is chill, Nor fix'd on you alone? And can you rend, by doubting still, A heart so much your own? To you my soul's affections move Devoutly, warmly, true: My life has been a task of love, One long, long thought of you. If all your tender faith is o'er, If still my truth you'll try; Alas! I know but one proof more - I'll bless your name, and die!


Love my Love in the Morning by Gerald Griffin popular and talented Irish novelist and dramatist born in Limerick, 1803 - died in Cork, 1840

I love my love in the morning, For she like morn is fair - Her blushing cheek, its crimson streak, Its clouds her golden hair. Her glance, its beam, so soft and kind; Her tears, its dewy showers; And her voice, the tender whispering wind That stirs the early bowers. I love my love in the morning, I love my love at noon, For she is bright as the lord of light, Yet mild as autumn's moon; Her beauty is my bosom's sun, Her faith my fostering shade, And I will love my darling one, Till even the sun shall fade. I love my love in the morning, I love my love at eve; Her smile's soft play is like the ray That lights the western heaven; I loved her when the sun was high, I loved her when she rose; But best of all when evening's sigh Was murmuring at its close.


Ellen Bawn (from the Irish) by James Clarence Mangan born Dublin, 1803 - died 1849

Ellen Bawn, oh, Ellen Bawn, you darling, darling dear, you Sit awhile beside me here, I'll die unless I'm near you! 'Tis for you I'd swim the Suir and breast the Shannon's waters; For, Ellen dear, you've not your peer in Galway's blooming daughters! Had I Limerick's gems and gold at will to mete and measure, Were Loughrea's abundance mine, and all Portumna's treasure, These might lure me, might insure me many and many a new love, But oh! no bribe could pay your tribe for one like you, my true love! Blessings be on Connaught! that's the place for sport and raking! Blessings, too, my love, on you, a-sleeping and a-waking! I'd have met you, dearest Ellen, when the sun went under, But, woe! the flooding Shannon broke across my path in thunder! Ellen! I'd give all the deer in Limerick's parks and arbors, Ay, and all the ships that rode last year in Munster's harbors, Could I blot from Time the hour I first became your lover, For, oh! you've given my heart a wound it never can recover! Would to God that in the sod my corpse to-night were lying, And the wild-birds wheeling o'er it, and the winds a-sighing, Since your cruel mother and your kindred choose to sever Two hearts that Love would blend in one forever and forever.


The Dearest by John Sterling born Waterford, 1806 - died, 1844

Oh that from far-away mountains, Over the restless waves, Where bubble enchanted fountains, Rising from jewell'd caves, I could call a fairy brid, Who, whenever thy voice was heard, Should come to thee, dearest! He should have violent pinions, And a beak of silver white, And should bring from the sun's dominions Eyes that would give thee light. Thou shouldst see that he was born In a land of gold and morn, To be thy servant, dearest! Oft would be drop on thy tresses A pearl or a diamond stone, And would yield to thy light caresses Blossoms in Eden grown. Round thy path his wings would shower Now a gem and now a flower, And dewy odors, dearest! He should fetch from his eastern island The songs that the Peris sing, And when evening is clear and silent, Spells to thy ear would bring, And with his mysterious strain Would entrance thy weary brain;- Love's own music, dearest! No Phoenix, alas! will hover, Sent from the morning star; And thou must take of thy lover A gift not brought so far: Wanting bird, and gem, and song, Ah! receive and treasure long A heart that loves thee, dearest!


Oh, My Love Has An Eye Of The Softest Blue by Rev. Charles Wolfeby born Dublin 1791 - died 1823

Oh, my love has an eye of the softest blue, Yet it was not that that won me; But a little bright drop from her soul was there, 'Tis that that has undone me. I might have pass'd that lovely cheek, Nor perchance my heart have left me; But the sensitive blush that came trembling there, Of my heart if forever bereft me. I might have forgotten that red, red lip, Yet how from that thought to sever? But there was a smile from the sunshine within, And that smile I'll remember forever. Think not 'tis nothing but lifeless clay, The elegant form that haunts me; 'Tis the gracefully elegant mind that moves In every step, that enchants me. Let me not hear the nightgale sing, Though I once in its notes delighted; The feeling and mind that comes whispering forth Has left me no music beside it. Who could blame had I loved that face, Ere my eye could twice explore her; Yet it is for the fairy intelligence there, And her warm, warm heart, I adore her. Oh, my love has an eye of the softest blue, Yet it was not that that won me; But a little bright drop from her soul was there, 'Tis that that has undone me. I might have pass'd that lovely cheek, Nor perchance my heart have left me; But the sensitive blush that came trembling there, Of my heart if forever bereft me. I might have forgotten that red, red lip, Yet how from that thought to sever? But there was a smile from the sunshine within, And that smile I'll remember forever. Think not 'tis nothing but lifeless clay, The elegant form that haunts me; 'Tis the gracefully elegant mind that moves In every step, that enchants me. Let me not hear the nightgale sing, Though I once in its notes delighted; The feeling and mind that comes whispering forth Has left me no music beside it. Who could blame had I loved that face, Ere my eye could twice explore her; Yet it is for the fairy intelligence there, And her warm, warm heart, I adore her.




Mary Draper By Charles James Lever

Don't talk to me of London dames, Nor rave about your foreign flames, That never lived - except in drames, Nor shone, except on paper; I'll sing you 'bout a girl I knew Who lived in Ballywhackmacrew, And, let me tell you, might few Could equal Mary Draper. Her cheeks were red, her eyes were blue, Her hair was brown of deepest hue, Her foot was small and neat to view, Her waist was slight and taper; Her voice was music to your ear, A lovely brogue, so rich and clear, Oh, the like I ne'er again shall hear As from sweet Mary Draper. She'd ride a wall, she'd drive a team, Or with a fly she'd whip a stream, Or may-be sing you "Rousseau's dream," For nothing could escape her; I've seen her, too - upon my word - At sixty yards bring down her bird - Oh! she charm'd all the Forty-third! Did lovely Mary Draper. And, at the spring assizes ball, The junior bar would, one and all, For all her favorite dances call, And Harry Deane would caper; Lord Clare would then forget his lore; King's counsel, voting law a bore, Were proud to figure on the floor For love of Mary Draper. The parson, priest, sub-sheriff too, Were all her slaves, and so would you, If you had only but one view Of such a face or shape, or Her pretty ankles - but alone, It's only west of old Athlone Such girls were found - And now they're gone - So, here's to Mary Draper!



The Widow Malone

Did you hear of the Widow Malone, Ohone! Who lived in the town of Athlone? Ohone! Oh, she melted the hearts Of the swains in them parts, So lovely the Widow Malone. Of lovers she ahd a full score, Or more, And fortunes they all had galore, In store; From the minister down To the clerk of the crown, All were courting the Widow Malone. But so modest was Mistress Malone, 'Twas known, That no one could see her alone, Ohone! Let them ogle and sigh, They could ne'er catch her eye, So bashful the Widow Malone. 'Till one Mister O'Brien, from Clare, - How quare! It's little for blushing they care Down there, Put his arm round her waist - Gave ten kisses at laste - "Oh," says he, "you're my Molly Malone, My own! "Oh," says he, "you're my Molly Malone. And the widow they all thought so shy, My eye! Ne'er thought of a simper or sigh, For why? But, "Lucius," says she, "Since you've now made so free, You may marry your Molly Malone." Ohone! You may marry your Molly Malone." There's a moral contained in my song, Not wrong, And one comfort, it's not very long, But strong, - If for widows you die, Learn to kiss, not to sigh, For they're all like sweet Mistress Malone, Ohone! Oh, they're all like sweet Mistress Malone.


A Visit From My Wife by O'Donovan Rossa

A single glance, and that glance the first, And her image was fixed in my mind and nursed; And now it is woven with all my schemes, And it rules the realm of all my dreams. One of Heaven's best gifts in an earthly mould, With a figure Appelles might paint of old - All a maiden's charms with a matron's grace, And the blossom and bloom off the peach in her face. And the genius that flashes her bright black eye Is the face of the sun in a clouded sky; She has noble thoughts - she has noble aims And these thoughts on her tongue are sparkling gems. With a gifted mind and spirit meek She would right the wronged and assist the weak; She would scorn dangers to cheer the brave, She would smite oppression and free the slave. Yet a blighted life is my loved one's part, And death cold shroud is around her heart, For winds from the "clouds of fate" have blown That force her to face the hard world alone. And a daughter she of trampled land, With its children exiled, prisoned, banned; And she vowed her love to a lover whom The tyrant had marked for a felon's doom. And snatched from her side erre the honeymoon wanted: In the dungeons of England he lies enchained; And the bonds that bind him "for life" a slave Are binding his love to his living grave. He would sever the link of such hopeless love, Were that sentence "for ever" decreed above. For the pleasures don't pay for the pains of life - To be living in death with a widowed wife. A single glance, and that glance the first, And her image was fixed in my mind and nursed, And now she's the woof of my worldly schemes, And she sits enthroned as the queen of my dreams.


True Love Can Ne'er Forget by Turlough Carolan (1670-1738) "

True love can ne'er forget; Fondly as when we met, Dearest, I love thee yet, My darling one!" Thus sung a minstrel gray His sweet impassion'd lay, Down by the Ocean's spray, At set of sun. But wither'd was the minstrel's sight, Morn to him was dark as night, Yet his heart was full of light, As thus the lay begun: "True love can ne'er forget; Fondly as when we met, Dearest, I love thee yet, My darling one! "Long years are past and o'er, Since from this fatal shore Cold hearts and cold winds bore My love from me." Scarcely the minstrel spoke, When forth, with flashing stroke, A boat's light oar the silence broke, Over the sea. Soon upon her native strand Doth a lovely lady land, While the minstrel's love-taught hand Did o'er his wild harp run: "True love can ne'er forget; Fondly as when we met, Dearest, I love thee yet My darling one!" Where the minstrel sat alone, There that lady fair had gone, Within his hand she placed her own. The bard dropp'd on his knee! >From his lips soft blessings came, He kiss'd her hand with truest flame, In trembling tones he names - HER name, Though her he could not see; But oh! - the touch the bard could tell Of that dear hand, remember'd well . Ah! - by many a secret spell Can true love find his own; For true love can ne'er forget; Fondly as when they met, He loved his lady yet, His darling one!


What is Love from 'Blanid'

What is this love, - this love that makes My heart's warm pulses quiver? They say it is the power that wakes The hyacinth 'mid hazel brakes, The lilies by the river, And that same thing that bids the dove Sit in the pine-tree high above, Its sweetheart wooing; But oh! alas! wate'er it be, It comes for my undoing! The lily of the river side By its sweet mate reposes Through autumn moons and winter-tide, To wake in love and beauty's pride When comes the time of roses; And in the springing of the year The doves' sweet voices you will hear Their vows renewing; But oh! alas! whate'er love be, And howsoe'er it comes to me, It comes for my undoing!


In Life's Young Morning

To My Wife air - "the woods in bloom" by Robert Dwyer Joyce In life's young morning I quaffed the wine From Love's bright bowl as it sparkling came, And it warms me ever, that draught divine, When I think of thee, dearest, or name thy name . The night may fall, and the winds may blow From palace gardens or place of tombs, Yet I dream of our Love-time long ago Beneath the yellow laburnum blooms. Gay was the garden, bright shone the bower, Like a golden tent 'neath the summer skies, The sunbeams glittered on leaf and flower, And light of heaven seemed in your eyes; The night may fall, and the winds may blow, But gladness ever my heart assumes >From that wine of love quaffed long ago Beneath the yellow labrnum blooms. O'er vale and forest dark falls the night, Yet my heart goes back to the sun and shine When you stood in the glory of girlhood bright Neath the golden blossoms, your hand in mine; The night may fall, the winds may blow, And the greenwoods wither 'neath winter glooms; Yet it lives forever, that long ago, Beneath the yellow laburnum blooms. Through the misty night to the eye and ear Come the glitter of flowers and the songs of birds, - Come thy looks of fondness to me so dear, And thy witching smiles and thy loving words; The night may fall and the winds may blow, But that hour forever my soul illumes, - Our golden Love-time long ago, Beneath the yellow laburnum blooms.

Song also from "Blanid" by Thomas Dwyer Joyce "O Wind of the west that bringest, O'er wood and lea, Perfume of flowers from my lady's bowers And a strain and a melody, - While soft 'mid the bloom thou singest Thy songs of laughter and sighs, Steal in where my darling lies With a kiss to her mouth from me! "White Rose, when at morn thou twinest Her lattice fair, Wave to and fro in the fresh sun's glow Till she wakes and beholds thee there; - When over her brow thou shinest, Then whisper from me, and press On her dear head one fond caress, And a kiss on her yellow hair! "Oh Rose! and O Wind that found her 'Mid morning's glee! While the noon goes by, keep ever nigh With your beauty and melody; - With your smile and song stay round her Till she closes her eyelids bright; Then give her a sweet Good-night And a kiss on the lips for me!"


Her Refrain

"Do you love me?" she said, when the skies were blue, And we walked were the stream through the branches glistened; And I told and retold her my love was true, While she listened and smiled, and smiled and listened. "Do you love me?" she whispered, when days were drear, And her eyes searched mine with a patient yearning; And I kissed her, renewing the words so dear, While she listened and smiled, as if slowly learning.  "Do you love me?" she asked, when we sat at rest By the stream enshadowed with autumn glory; Her cheek had been laid as in peace on my breast, But she raised it to ask for the sweet old story. And I said: "I will tell her the tale again - I will swear by the earth and the stars above me!" And I told her that uttermost time should prove The fervor and faith of my perfect love; And I vowed it and pledged it that nought should move; While she listened and smiled in my face, and then She whispered once more, "Do you truly love me?"


Love's Secret By John Boyle O'Reilly

Love found them sitting in a woodland place, His amorous hand amid her golden tresses; And Love looked smiling on her glowing face And moistened eyes upturned to his carresses. "O sweet," she murmured, "life is utter bliss!" "Dear heart," he said, "our golden cup runs over!" "Drink, love," she cried, "and thank the gods for this!" He drained the precious lips of cup and lover. Love blessed the kiss; but, ere he wandered thence, The mated bosoms heard this benedicition: "Love lies within the brimming bowl of sense: Who keeps this full has joy - who drinks affliction." They heard the rustle as he smiling fled: She reached her hand to pull the roses blowing. He stretched to take the purple grapes o'er-head; Love whispered back, "Nay, their beauties growing." They paused, and understood: one flower alone They took and kept, and Love flew smiling over. Their roses bloomed, their cup went brimming on - She looked for Love within, and found her lover.


Love's Sacrifice by John Boyle O'Reilly

Love's Herald flew o'er all the fields of Greece,  Crying: "Love alter waits for sacrifice!" And all folk answered, like a wave of peace, With treasured offerings and gifts of price. Toward high Olympus every white road filled With pilgrims streaming to the blest abode; Each bore rich tribute, some for joys fulfilled, And some for blisses lingering on the road. The pious peasant drives his laden car; The fisher youth bears treasure from the sea; A wife brings honey for the sweets that are; A maid brings roses for the sweets to be. Here strides the soldier with his wreathed sword, No more to glitter in his country's wars; There walks the poet with his mystic word, And smiles at Eros' mile recruit from Mars. But midst these bearers of propitious gifts, Behold where two, a youth and maiden stand; She bears no boon; his arm no burden lifts, Save her dear finger pressed within his hand. Their touch ignites the soft delicious fire, Whose rays the very altar-flames eclipse; Their eyes are on each other - sweet desire And yearning passion tremble on their lips. So fair - so strong! Ah, Love! what errant wiles Have brought these two so poor and so unblest? But see! Instead of anger, Cupid smiles; And lo! he crowns their sacrifice as best! Their hands are empty, but their hearts are filled; Their gifts so rare for all the host suffice; Beore the alter is their life-wine spilled - The love they long for is their sacrifice.


The Girl I Love

The Girl I Love Súd i síos an caóin ban álain óg translated from the Irish by J. J. Callanan born in Cork in 1795, died in Lisbon Portugal 1827

"A large proportion of the songs I have met with are love songs. Somehow or other, truly or untruly, the Irish have obtained a character for gallantry...At their dances (of which they are very fond) whether a-field or in ale-house, a piece of gallantry frequently occurs, which is alluded to in the following song. A young man, smitten suddenly by the charms of a danseuse belonging to a company to which he is a stranger, rises, and with his best bow offers her his glass and requests her to drink to him. After due refusal, it is usually accepted, and is looked on as a good omen of successful wooing....The parties may be totally unacquianted, and perhaps never meet again, under which circumstances it would appear that this song was written" preface by John Boyle O' Reilly The girl I love is comely, straight, and tall, Down her white neck her auburn tresses fall; Her dress is neat, her carriage light and free - Here's a health to that charming maid, who'er she be! The rose's blush but fades beside her cheek, Her eyes are blue, her forehead pale and meek, Her lips like cherries on a summer tree - Here's a health to the charming maid, who'er she be! When I go to the field no youth can lighter bound, And I freely pay when the cheerful jug does round; The barrel is full, but its heart we soon shall see - Come, here's to that charming maid, who'er she be! Had I the wealth that props the Saxon's reign, Or the diamond crown that decks the King of Spain, I'd yield them all if she kindly smiled on me Here's a health to the maid I love, who'er she be! Five pounds of gold for each lock of her hair I'd pay, And five times five for my love one hour each day; Her voice is more sweet than the thrush on its own green tree - Then, my dear, may I drink a fond deep health to thee!


"Laddle of Buchan"

Song Air - "Laddle of Buchan"  translated from the Irish by J. J. Callanan Awake thee, my Bessy, the morning is fair, The breath of young roses is fresh on the air, The sun has long glanced over mountain and lake - Then awake from thy slumbers, my Bessy, awake. Oh, come whilst the flowers are still wet with the dew - I'll gather the fairest, my Bessy, for you; The lark poureth forth his sweet strain for thy sake - Then awake from thy slumbers, my Bessy, awake. The hare from her soft bed of heather hath gone, The coot to the water already hath flown;
There is life on the mountain and joy on the lake - Then awake from thy slumbers, my Bessy, awake.


"The Coolun"

Irish Rustic Ballad translated from the Irish by Samuel Ferguson

Samuel Ferguson, poet and writer of historical romance, was born in Belfast, Ireland, in 1815. He was educated at the Belfast Academical Institute, also at the Universtiy of Dublin...He was admitted to the Irish bar in 1838. Ferguson (the original of which is McFergus) is a descendant from an ancient Celtic family; which ancestry is accountable for the wonderful power and energy, combined with the sweetness and descriptive beauty, which are the leading characteristics of his writings. During his earlier years his youthful imagination found more enjoyment in gratifying his natural love of literature. he became a contributor to the Dublin University Magazine, in whose pages frist appeared his fine romances of Irish History. As a translator of Irish ballads he is unrivalled. The latter years of Ferguson's life have been devoted almost entirely to his profession, working faithfully and earnestly...He died in August, 1886.' John Boyle O'Reilly Oh, had you seen the Coolun Walking down by the cuckoo's street, With the dew of the meadow shining On her milk-white twinkling feet! My love she is, and my coleen oge, And she dwells in Bal'nagar; And she bears the palm of beauty bright From the fairest that Erin are. In Bal'nagar is the Coolun, Like the berry on the bough her cheek; Bright beauty dwells forever On her fair neck and ringlets sleek; Oh, sweet is her mouth's soft music Than the lark or thrush at dawn, Or the blackbird in the greenwood singing Farewell to the setting sun. Rise up, my boy! make ready My horse, for I forth would ride, To follow the modest damsel, Where she walks on the green hill side; For, ever since our youth were we plighted, In faith, truth, and wedlock true - She is sweeter to me nine times over, Than organ or cuckoo! For, ever since my childhood I loved the fair and darling child; But our people came between us, And the lucre our pure love defiled; Oh, my woe it is, and my bitter pain, And I weep at night and day, That the coleen bawn of my early love Is torn from my heart away. Sweetheart and faithful treasure, Be constant still, and true; Nor for want of herds and houses Leave one who would ne'er leave you; I'll pledge you the blessed Bible, Without and eke within, That the faithful God will provide for us, Without thanks to kith or kin. Oh, love, do you remember When we lay all night alone Beneath the ash in the winter-storm, When the oak wood round did groan? No shelter then from the blast had we,
The bitter blast or sleet, But your gown to wrap about our heads, And my coat round our feet.


"Cean Dubh Deelish"

Cean Dubh Deelish (i.e. dear black head) translated from the Irish by Samuel Ferguson Put your head, darling, darling, darling, Your darling black head my heart above; Oh, mouth of honey, with the thyme for fragrance, Who, with heart in breast, could deny you love? Oh, many and many a young girl for me is pining, Letting her locks of gold to the cold wind free, For me, the foremost of our gay young fellows; But I'd leave a hundred, pure love, for thee! Then put your head, darling, darling, darling, Your darling black head my heart above; Oh, mouth of honey, with the thyme for fragrance, Who, with heart in breast, could deny you love?


"Hopeless Love"

Since hopeless of thy love I go, Some little mark of pity show; And only one kind parting look bestow, - One parting look of pity mild On him, through starless tempest wild, Who lonely hence to-night must go, exiled. But even rejected love can warm The heart through night and storm; And unrelenting though they be, Thine eyes beam life on me. And I will bear that look benign Within this darkly-troubled breast to shine,  Though never, never can thyself, ah me, be mine!


"The Fair Hair'd Girl" translanslated from the Irish by Samuel Ferguson

The Fair-Hair'd Girl Irish Song The sun has set, the stars are still, The red moon hides behind the hill; The tide has left the brown beach bare, The birds have fled the upper air; Upon her branch the lone cuckoo Is chanting still her sad adieu; And you, my fair-hair'd girl, must go Across the salt sea under woe! I through love have learn'd three things, Sorrow, sin, and death it brings; Yet day by day my heart within Dares shame and sorrow, death and sin; Maiden, you have aim'd the dart Rankling in my ruin'd heart; Maiden, may the God above Grant you grace to grant me love! Sweeter than the viol's string, And the notes that blackbirds sing; Brighter than the dewdrops rare Is the maiden wondrous fair; Like the silver swans at play Is her neck, as bright as day! Woe is me, that e'er my sight Dwelt on charms so deadly bright!


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