More Nonsense ©winnie caw 2004
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Lewis Carroll (1832 - 98)

Poeta Fit, non Nascitur

'How shall I be a poet?
    How shall I write in rhyme:
You told me once 'the very wish
    Partook of the sublime.'
Then tell me how! Don't put me off
    With your "another time"!'

The old man smiled to see him,
    To hear his sudden sally;
He liked the lad to speak his mind
And thought, 'There's no hum-drum in him,
    Nor any shilly-shally.'

'And would you be a poet
    Before you've been to school?
Ah, well! I hardly thought you
    So absolute a fool.
First learn to be spasmodic-
    A very simple rule.

'For first you write a sentence,
    And then you chop it small;
Then mix the bits, and sort them out
    Just as they chance to fall:
The order of the phrases makes
    No difference at all.

'Then, if you'd be impressive,
    Remember what I say,
That abstract qualities begin
    With capitals alway:
The True, the Good, the Beautiful-
    Those are the things that pay!

'Next, when you are describing
    A shape, or sound, or tint;
Don't state the matter plainly,
    But put it in a hint;
And learn to look at all things
    With a sort of mental squint.'

'For instance, if I wished, Sir,
    Of mutton-pies to tell,
Should I say "dreams of fleecy flocks
    Pent in a wheaten cell"?'
'Why, yes,' the old man said: 'that phrase
    Would answer very well.

'Then, fourthly, there are epithets
    That suit with any word-
As well as Harvey's Reading Sauce
    With fish, or flesh, or bird-
Of these, "wild," "lonely," "weary," "strange,"
    Are much to be preferred.'

'And will it do, O will it do
    To take them in a lump-
As "the wild man went his weary way
    To a strange and lonely pump"?'
'Nay, nay! You must not hastily
    To such conclusions jump.

'Such epithets, like pepper,
    Give zest to what you write;
And, if you strew them sparely,
    They whet the appetite:
But if you lay them on too thick,
    You spoil the matter quite!

'Last, as to the arrangement:
    Your reader, you should show him.
Must take what information he
    Can get, and look for no im-
mature disclosure of the drift
    And purpose of your poem.

'Therefore, to test his patience-
    How much he can endure-
Mention no places, names, or dates,
    And evermore be sure
Throughout the poem to be found
    Consistently obscure.

'First fix upon the limit
    To which it shall extend:
Then fill it up with "Padding"
    (Beg some of any friend):
    You place towards the end.'

'And what is a Sensation,
    Grandfather, tell me, pray?
I think I never heard the word
    So used before to-day:
Be kind enough to mention one
   "Exempli gratia." '

And the old man, looking sadly
    Across the garden-lawn,
Where here and there a dew-drop
    Yet glittered in the dawn,
Said, 'Go to the Adelphi,
    And see the "Colleen Bawn."

'The word is due to Boucicault-
    The theory is his,
Where Life becomes a Spasm,
    And History a Whiz:
If that is not Sensation,
    I don't know what it is.

'Now try your hand, ere Fancy
    Have lost its present glow-'
'And then,' his grandson added,
    'We'll publish it, you know:
Green cloth - gold-lettered at the back -
    In duodecimo!'

Then proudly smiled that old man
    To see the eager lad
Rush madly for his pen and ink
    And for his blotting-pad -
But, when he thought of publishing,
    His face grew stern and sad.


[Tutor's Dignity]

My one pupil has begun his work with me, and I will give you a description how the lecture is conducted. It is the most important point, you know, that the tutor should be dignified and at a distance from the pupil, and that the pupil should be as much as possible degraded.
Otherwise, you know, they are not humble enough.
So I sit at the further end of the room; outside the door (which is shut) sits the scout: outside the outer door (also shut) sits the sub-scout: half-way downstairs sits the sub-sub-scout; and down in the yard sits the pupil.
The questions are shouted from one to the other, and the answers come back in the same way- it is rather confusing till you are well used to it. The lecture goes something like this:-

Tutor. What is twice three?
Scout. What's a rice tree?
Sub-Scout. When is ice free?
Sub-sub-Scout. What's a nice fee?
Pupil (timidly). Half a guinea!
Sub-sub-Scout. Can't forge any!
Sub-Scout. Ho for Jinny!
Scout. Don't be a ninny!
Tutor (looks offended, but tries another question). Divide a hundred by twelve!
Scout. Provide wonderful bells!
Sub-Scout. Go ride under it yourself!
Sub-sub-Scout. Deride the dunder-headed elf!
Pupil (surprised). Who do you mean?
Sub-sub-Scout. Doings between!
Sub-Scout. Blue is the screen!
Scout. Soup-tureen!

And so the lecture proceeds.

Tweedledum and Tweedledee
"If you think we're waxworks, you ought to pay you know."



Edward Lear (1812 - 88)

A Letter to Evelyn Baring

Thrippsy pillivinx,
    Inky tinky pobbleboskle abblesquabs?-
Flosky! beebul trimble flosky! - Okul
scratchabibblebongibo, viddle squibble tog-a-tog,
ferrymoyassity amsky flamsky ramsky damsky
crocklefether squiggs.

                                Flinkywisty pomm,


The Courtship of the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo


On the Coast of Coromandel
Where the early pumpkins blow,
In the middle of the woods
Lived the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo.
Two old chairs, and half a candle,-
One old jug without a handle,-
    These were all his worldly goods:
    In the middle of the woods,
    These were all the worldly goods,
Of the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo,
Of the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo.


Once, among the Bong-trees walking
Where the early pumpkins blow,
To a little heap of stones
Came the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo.
There he heard a Lady talking,
To some milk-white Hens of Dorking,-
    'Tis the Lady Jingly Jones!
    On that little heap of stones
    Sits the Lady Jingly Jones!'
Said the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo,
Said the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo.


Lady Jingly! Lady Jingly!
    Sitting where the pumpkins blow,
    Will you come and be my wife?'
Said the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo.
'I am tired of living singly,-
On this coast so wild and shingly,-
    I'm a-weary of my life:
    If you'll come and be my wife,
    Quite serene would be my life!'-
Said the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo,
Said the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo.


'On this Coast of Cormandel,
    Shrimps and watercresses grow,
    Prawns are plentiful and cheap,'
Said the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo.
'You shall have my Chairs and candle,
And my jug without a handle!-
    Gaze upon the rolling deep
    (Fish is plentiful and cheap)
    As the sea, my love is deep!'
Said the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo.


Lady Jingly answered sadly,
    And her tears began to flow,-
    'Your proposal comes too late,
Mr. Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo!
I would be your wife most gladly!'
(Here she twirled her fingers madly,)
    'But in England I've found a mate!
    Yes! you've asked me far too late,
    For in England I've found a mate,
Mr. Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo!
Mr. Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo!


'Mr. Jones-(his name is Handel,-
    Handel Jones, Esquire,& Co.)
        Dorking fowls delights to send,
Mr. Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo!
Keep, oh! keep your chairs and candle,
And your jug without a handle,-
    I can merely be your friend!
    -Should my Jones more Dorkings send,
    I will give you three, my friend!
Mr. Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo!
Mr. Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo!


'Though you've such a tiny body,
    And your head so large doth grow,-
        Though your hat may blow away,
    Mr. Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo!
Though you're such a Hoddy Doddy-
Yet I wish that I could modi-
        fy the words I needs must say!
        Will you please to go away?
        That is all I have to say-
Mr. Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo!
Mr. Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo!


Down the slippery slopes of Myrtle,
    Where the early pumpkins blow,
        To the calm and silent sea
    Fled the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo.
There, beyond the Bay of Gurtle,
Lay a large and lively Turtle;-
    'You're the Cove,' he said, 'for me
    On your back beyond the sea,
    Turtle, you shall carry me!'
Said the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo,
Said the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo.


Through the silent roaring ocean
    Did the Turtle swiftly go;
        Holding fast upon his shell
    Rode the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo.
With a sad primaeval motion
Towards the sunset isles of Boshen
    Still the Turtle bore him well.
    Holding fast upon his shell,
    'Lady Jingly Jones, farewell!'
Sang the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo.
Sang the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo.


From the Coast of Coromandel,
    Did that Lady never go;
        On that heap of stones she mourns
    For the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo.
On that Coast of Coromandel,
In his jug without a handle
        Still she weeps, and daily moans;
        On that little heap of stones
        To her Dorking Hens she moans;
For the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo,
For the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo.


The Children of the Owl and the Pussy-cat (unfinished)

The Owl and the Pussy-cat by Edward Lear

Our mother was the Pussy-cat, our father was the Owl,
And so we're partly little beasts and partly little fowl,
The brothers of our family have feathers and they hoot,
While all the sisters dress in fur and have long tails to boot.
        We all believe that little mice,
        For food are singularly nice.

Our mother died long years ago. She was a lovely cat
Her tail was 5 feet long, and grey with stripes, but what of that?
In Sila forest on the East of far Calabria's shore
She tumbled from a lofty tree-none ever saw her more.
Our owly father long was ill from sorrow and surprise,
But with the feathers of his tail he wiped his bleeding eyes.
And in the hollow of a tree in Sila's inmost maze
We made a happy home and there we pass our obvious days.

From Reggian Cosenza many owls about us flit
And bring us worldly news for which we do not care a bit.
We watch the sun each morning rise, beyond Tarento's strait;
We go out ..........before it gets too late;
And when the evening shades begin to lengthen from the trees sure as bees is bees.
We wander up and down the shore ...........
Or tumble over head and heels, but never, never more
Can see the far Gromboolian plains........
Or weep as we could once have wept o'er many a vanished scene:
This is the way our father moans- he is so very green.

Our father still preserves his voice, and when he sees a star
He often that original guitar.
The pot in which our parents took the honey in their boat,
But all the money has been spent, beside the £5 note.
The owls who come and bring us news are often-
Because we take no interest in poltix of the day.



Hilaire Belloc (1870 - 1956)

"When I am dead, I hope it may be said:
'His sins were scarlet, but his books were read.'"  

The Road (mostly about The Pilgrim Way from Winchester to Canterbury and Dover)

"There are primal things which move us. Fire has the character of a free companion that has travelled with us from the first exile; only to see a fire, whether he need it or no, comforts every man. Again, to hear two voices outside at night after a silence, even in crowded cities, transforms the mind. A Roof also, large and mothering, satisfies us here in the north much more than modern necessity can explain; so we built in the beginning: the only way to carry off our rains and to bear the weight of our winter snows. A Tower far off arrests a manís eye always: it is more than a break in the sky-line; it is an enemyís watch or the rallying of a defence to whose aid we are summoned. Nor are these emotions a memory or a reversion only as one crude theory might pretend; we craved these things - the camp, the refuge, the sentinels in the dark, the hearth - before we made them; they are part of our human manner, and when this civilisation has perished they will reappear.

"Of these primal things the least obvious but the most important is The Road. It does not strike the sense as do those others I have mentioned; we are slow to feel its influence. We take it so much for granted that its original meaning escapes us. Men, indeed, whose pleasure it is perpetually to explore even their own country on foot, and to whom its every phase of climate is delightful, receive, somewhat tardily, the spirit of The Road. They feel a meaning in it; it grows to suggest the towns upon it, it explains its own vagaries, and it gives a unity to all that has arisen along its way. But for the mass The Road is silent; it is the humblest and the most subtle, but, as I have said, the greatest and most original of the spells which we inherit from the earliest of our race. It was the most imperative and the first of our necessities. It is older than building and than wells; before we were quite men we knew it, for the animals still have it to-day; they seek their food and their drinking-places, and, as I believe, their assemblies, by known tracks which they have made.

"It is easy to re-create in oneself to-day a sense of what the Road means to living things on land: it is easy to do it even in this crowded country.  Walk, for instance, on the neglected Pennines along the watershed of England, from Malham Tarn, say, to Ribblehead, or from Kirkby Stephen up along the crest to Crossfell and so to Alston, and you will learn at once what follows on an untouched soil from the absence of a track - a guide. One ravine out of the many radiating from a summit will lead to the one valley you seek; take another stream and you are condemned at last to traverse mountains to repair the error. In a fog or at night, if one has not such a path, there is nothing to help one but the lay of the snow or the trend of the vegetation under the last gale. In climbing, the summit is nearly always hidden, and nothing but a track will save you from false journeys. In descent it alone will save you a precipice or an unfordable stream. It knows upon which side an obstacle can be passed, where there is firm land in a morass, and where there is the best going; sand or rock - dry soil. It will find what nothing but long experiment can find for an individual traveller, the precise point in a saddle or neck where approach is easiest from either side, and everywhere the Road, especially the very early Road, is wiser than it seems to be. It reminds one of those old farmers who do not read, and whom we think at first unreasoning in their curious and devious ways, but whom, if we watch closely, we shall find doing all their work just in that way which infinite time has taught the country-side.

"Thus I know an old man in Sussex who never speaks but to say that everything needs rest. Land, he says, certainly; and also he believes iron and wood. For this he is still ridiculed, but what else are the most learned saying now? And I know a path in the Vosges which, to the annoyance of those who travel by it, is irrational: it turns sharp northward and follows under a high ridge, instead of directly crossing it: some therefore leave it and lose all their pains, for, if you will trust to that path you will find it crosses the ridge at last at the only place where, on the far side, it is passable at all; all before and beyond that point is a little ledge of precipice which no one could go down.

"More than rivers and more than mountains, roads have moulded the political groups of men. The Alps with a mule-track across them are less of a barrier than fifteen miles of forest or rough land separating one from that track. Religions, which are the principal formers of mankind, have followed the roads only, leaping from city to city and leaving the 'Pagani,' in the villages off the road, to a later influence. Consider the series Jerusalem, Antioch, Ephesus, Athens, and the Appian Way: Rome, all the tradition of the Tuscan highway, the Ligurian coast, Marseilles and Lyons. I have read in some man's book that the last link of that chain was the river Rhone; but this man can never have tried to pull a boat upon the Rhone up-stream. It was the Road that laid the train. The Mass had reached Lyons before, perhaps, the last disciple of the apostles was dead: in the Forez, just above, four hundred years later, there were most probably offerings at night to the pagan gods of those sombre and neglected hills.

"And with religions all that is built on them: letters, customs, community of language and idea, have followed the Road, because humanity, which is the matter of religion, must also follow the road it has made. Architecture follows it, commerce of course, all information: it is even so with the poor thin philosophies, each in its little day drifts, for choice, down a road.

"The sacredness which everywhere attaches to The Road has its sanction in all these uses, but especially in that antiquity from which the quality of things sacred is drawn: and with the mention of the word 'antiquity' I may explain another desire which led me to the study I have set down in this book: not only did I desire to follow a road most typical of all roads that have been for us in western Europe, but also to plunge right into the spirit of the oldest monument of the life men led on this island: I mean the oldest of which a continuous record remains.

"To study something of great age until one grows familiar with it and almost to live in its time, is not merely to satisfy a curiosity or to establish aimless truths: it is rather to fulfil a function whose appetite has always rendered History a necessity. By the recovery of the Past, stuff and being are added to us; our lives which, lived in the present only, are a film or surface, take on body - are lifted into one dimension more. The soul is fed. Reverence and knowledge and security and the love of a good land - all these are increased or given by the pursuit of this kind of learning. Visions or intimations are confirmed. It is excellent to see perpetual agony and failure perpetually breeding the only enduring things; it is excellent to see the crimes we know ground under the slow wheels whose ponderous advance we can hardly note during the flash of one human life. One may say that historical learning grants men glimpses of life completed and a whole; and such a vision should be the chief solace of whatever is mortal and cut off imperfectly from fulfilment.

"Now of all that study the chief charm lies in mere antiquity. No one truly loves history who is not more exalted according to the greater age of the new things he finds. Though things are less observable as they are farther away, yet their appeal is directly increased by such a distance in a manner which all know though none can define it. It is not an illusion; perhaps an ultimate reality stands out when the details are obscured. At any rate it is the appeal which increases as we pass further from the memories of childhood, or from the backward vision of those groups of mountains which seem to rise higher and more awfully into the air as we abandon them across the plains. Antiquity of that degree conveys - I cannot pretend to say how - echoes which are exactly attuned to whatever is least perishable in us. After the present and manifold voice of Religion to which these echoes lead, and with which in a sense they merge, I know of nothing more nobly answering the perpetual questioning of a man. Nor of all the vulgar follies about us is any more despicable than that which regards the future with complacency, and finds nothing but imperfection in that innocent, creative, and wondering past which the antiquaries and geologists have revealed to us.

"For my past I desired to step exactly in the footprints of such ancestors. I believed that, as I followed their hesitations at the river-crossings, as I climbed where they had climbed to a shrine whence they also had seen a wide plain, as I suffered the fatigue they suffered, and laboriously chose, as they had chosen, the proper soils for going, something of their much keener life would wake again in the blood I drew from them, and that in a sort I should forget the vileness of my own time, and renew for some few days the better freedom of that vigorous morning when men were already erect, articulate, and worshipping God, but not yet broken by complexity and the long accumulation of evil. It was perhaps a year ago that I determined to follow and piously to recover the whole of that doubtful trail whereby they painfully made their way from one centre of their common life to the sea, which was at once their chief mystery and their only passage to the rest of their raceófrom Hampshire to the Straights of Dover. Many, I knew, had written about that road; much of it was known, but much also was lost. No one, to my knowledge, had explored it in its entirety.

"First, therefore, I read what had been written about this most ancient way, I visited men who were especially learned in geology and in antiquarian knowledge, I took notes from them, and I carefully studied the maps of all sorts that could help me in my business. Then, taking one companion, I set out late in December to recover and map out yard by yard all that could be recovered and mapped out of The Old Road.

"No better task could be put before a man, and the way in which I accomplished it my readers shall judge in the essay which follows this introduction, and in the diary of my journey with which the book shall close."

[Various Beasts]

The Llama is a woolly sort of fleecy hairy goat,
With an indolent expression and an undulating throat
    Like an unsuccessful literary man.
And I know the place he lives in (or at least - I think I do)
It is Ecuador, Brazil or Chile - possibly Peru;
    You must find it in the Atlas if you can.
The Llama of the Pampasses you never should confound
(In spite of a deceptive similarity of sound)
    With the Lama who is Lord of Turkestan.
For the former is a beautiful and valuable beast,
But the latter is not lovable nor useful in the least;
And the Ruminant is preferable surely to the Priest
Who battens on the woful superstitions of the East,
    The Mongol of the Monastery of Shad.

The Chamois

The Chamois inhabits
Lucerne, where his habits
    (Though why I have not an idea-r)
Give him sudden short spasms
On the brink of deep chasms,
    And he lives in perpetual fear.

The Bison

The Bison is vain, and (I write it with pain)
    The Door-mat you see on his head
Is not, as some learned professors maintain,
The opulent growth of a genius' brain;
    But is sewn on with needle and thread.

The Viper

Yet another great truth I record in my verse,
That some Vipers are venomous, some the reverse;
    A fact you may prove if you try,

By procuring two Vipers, and letting them bite;
With the first you are only the worse for a fright,
    But after the second you die.

The Hippopotamus

I shoot the Hippopotamus
With bullets made of platinum,
Because if I use leaden ones
His hide is sure to flatten 'em.

G stands for Gnu, whose weapons of Defence
Are long, sharp, curling Horns, and Common-sense.
To these he adds a Name so short and strong
That even Hardy Boers pronounce it wrong.
How often on a bright Autumnal day
The Pious people of Pretoria say,
'Come, let us hunt the -' Then no more is heard
But Sounds of Strong Men struggling with a word.
Meanwhile, the distant Gnu with grateful eyes
Observes his opportunity, and flies.


Child, if you have a rummy kind of name,
Remember to be thankful for the same.


W S Gilbert (1836 - 1911)

The Chancellor's Nightmare

Love, unrequited, robs me of my rest:
    Love, hopeless love, my ardent soul encumbers:
Love, nightmare-like, lies heavy on my chest:
    And weaves itself into my midnight slumbers!

When you're lying awake with a dismal headache, and repose is taboo'd by anxiety,
I conceive you may use any language you choose to indulge in, without impropriety;
For your brain is on fire- the bedclothes conspire of usual slumber to plunder you:
First your counterpane goes, and uncovers your toes, and your sheet slips demurely from under you;
Then the blanketing tickles-you feel like mixed pickles-so terribly sharp is the pricking.
And you're hot, and you're cross, and you tumble and toss till there's nothing 'twixt you and the ticking.
Then the bedclothes all creep to the ground in a heap, and you pick 'em all up in a tangle;
Next your pillow resigns and politely declines to remain at its usual angle!
Well, you get some repose in the form of a doze, with hot eyeballs and head ever aching,
But your slumbering teems with such horrible dreams that you'd very much better be waking;
For you dream you are crossing the Channel, and tossing about in a steamer from Harwich-
Which is something between a large bathing machine and a very small second-class carriage-
And you're giving a treat (penny ice and cold meat) to a party of friends and relations-
They're a ravenous horde-and they all came on board at Sloane Square and South Kensington Stations.
And bound on that journey you find your attorney (who started that morning from Devon);
He's a bit undersized, and you don't feel surprised when he tells you he's only eleven.
Well, you're driving like mad with this singular lad (by the by, the ship's now a four-wheeler),
And you're playing round games, and he calls you bad names when you tell him that 'ties pay the dealer';
But this you can't stand, so you throw up your hand, and you find you're as cold as an icicle,
In your shirt and your socks (the black silk with gold clocks), crossing Salisbury Plain on a bicycle:
And he and the crew are on bicycles too - which they've somehow or other invested in -
And he's telling the tars all the particulars of a company he's interested in-
It's a scheme of devices, to get at low prices all goods from cough mixtures to cables
(Which tickled the sailors,) by treating retailers as though they were all vegetables-
You get a good spadesman to plant a small tradesman (first take off his boots with a boot-tree),
And his legs will take root, and his fingers will shoot, and they'll blossom and bud like a fruit-tree -
From the greengrocer tree you get grapes and green pea, cauliflower, pineapple, and cranberries,
While the pastrycook plant cherry brandy will grant, apply puffs, and three-corners, and Banburys -
The shares are a penny, and ever so many are taken by Rothschild and Baring,
And just as a few are allotted to you, you awake with a shudder despairing -
You're a regular wreck, with a crick in your neck, and no wonder you snore, for your head's on the floor, and you've needles and pins from your soles to your shins, and your flesh is a-creep, for your left leg's asleep, and you've cramp in your toes, and a fly on your nose, and a thirst that's intense, and a general sense that you haven't been sleeping in clover;
But the darkness has passed, and it's daylight at last, and the night has been long - ditto ditto my song - and thank goodness they're both of them over!


Thomas Hood (1799 - 1845)

From The Greek

My temples throb, my pulses boil,
    I'm sick of Song and Ode, and Ballad -
So, Thyrsis, take the Midnight Oil
    And pour it on a lobster salad.

My brain is dull, my sight is foul,
    I cannot write a verse, or read -
Then, Pallas, take away thine Owl,
    And let us have a lark instead.


Select Spoonerisms

(manufactured in Oxford and fathered on William Archibald Spooner (1844 - 1930), for thirteen years Dean, and later Warden, of New College)

In a sermon in New College chapel: 'Yes, Our Lord is indeed a shoving leopard.'

Announcing the hymns in Chapel: 'Hymn 175, Kinquering Congs their titles take.'

In another college sermon: 'Which of us has not felt in his heart a half-warmed fish?'

At the optician's:
'Have you got a signifying glass?'
'A what, sir?'
'A signifying glass.'
'I don't think we stock them, sir.'
'Oh well, it doesn't magnify.'

Proposing a toast: 'Let us drink to the queer old Dean.'

To a former undergraduate: ' I remember your name perfectly, but I just cannot think of your face.'

To a defaulting undergraduate: 'Sir, you have tasted a whole worm. You have hissed my mystery lectures. You were fighting a liar in the quadrangle. You will leave Oxford by the town drain.'





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