FABIAN S. WOODLEY

Poet of the Uranian Movement


Song

I heard the song of the morning stars,
   I heard the blue-bells chime,
A necklet of dew-drops I strung, and danced
   In a field of amethyst thyme;
I watched the daisies open their eyes
   And smile at the morning sun;
I heard the rustle of Night's great wings
   As he soared when Day was done.

In a water-lily's cup I caught
   The gleam of gossamer wings,
And watched the sway of their rainbow span
   In the air's soft winnowings;
I lay in a nest of long, lush grass
   Till the sky to opal paled,
Far away in the West, on a lake of blue
   Cloud-ships of thistledown sailed.

To each other the tall trees bent, and sang
   The songs of Fairyland,
But WHAT they said I won't tell you,
   For YOU wouldn't understand. 
If you were a little less clever and wise
   You would laugh as you walked your way
And know that Song is the soul of the world
   And be happy the live-long day!  

Viola's Birthday

Viola is ten today,
   All good fairies gifts have brought -
Come with me to see the treasures
   Fairy hands have wrought!

Here's a robe of pearly dawning
   Fringed with fleecy white sea-mist,
Lined with velvet, stolen at morning
   From a dusky rose, sun-kissed;

Here's a gown of purple shadows
   Woven at the dusk of night,
Trimmed with amethyst and rose
   From peak-tops at earliest light;

Here's a cap of mellow sunbeams
   Shot with skies of summer blue,
And a ring of kingcup yellow
   Diamonded with morning dew;

Here's a peach-bloom scarf, and purse
   Of pollen from a lily flower,
And a Book of Dreams and Fancies
   Culled in some forgotten hour;

Here's a chain of silent moonbeams
   Set in flakes of innocent snow,
And a chime of flower bells ringing
   Down the Night wind, faint and low.

In this amber shell lie sleeping
   Songs of all the fluted winds,
Songs so strangely wrapped in slumber
   No musicians' art unbinds!

Here's a vase of crystal water
   From the Magic Well of Truth -
Last, and Best, a Box of Laughter,
   Life and Love, and rose-red Youth!

De Mortuis

They do not die, but pass serene and glorious
   Beyond the sunset's gold and crimson bar -
Great kings, o'er Death and Chance and Time
      victorious,
   Reigning for ever each in his own star.

Who looks beyond this veil of flesh may hear
   Their silver voices heralding the light
Of Dawn, or watch their streamered swift career
   Adown the long savannahs of the Night.

With them the loves of earth endure made splendid,
   Transfigured by the wisdom of the skies:
Content they wait until our life be ended
   Watching us here with calm, compassionate eyes.

Sunset

At last the Sun his burning curls shook out
From Day's cloud-woven net - Victoriously
He topped the battlements of Eternity,
Then strode adown the Orient.
                                                        
The shout
Of his gold trumpet changed the skies to flame,
His cymbals clashed defiance to the Moon;
But She (bright Queen) smiled unperturbed -
            for soon
Her multitudinous battalians came
Hurling their silver spears in swift pursuit
O' the Foe shocked from his antique throne.
                                                          The bruit
Of battle filled the West with crimson glare,
Purpurate smoke emplumed the windy sky
Till Darkness fell - and She, as a vestal fair,
Ruled sacrosanct her crystal empery.

Nocturne. Trafalgar Square

Day draws to a splendid close ...
  Now fades the last long-lingering beam
Against a sky of palest rose
  The stencilled buildings dream.

While the slow twilight wanes
  White mists weave tremulously
Aloft, where the Sea Lord reigns
  In lonely majesty.

Dark, through the steel-grey hour,
  Weaves forms fantastic, arabesque;
The grim lion-sentinels tower
  To Sphinxes huge, grotesque.

Lamps, like a band of sprites,
  Look over the plashy fountain's rim,
Watching their yellow lights
  Shimmer, and dance, and swim.

Night comes triumphant, grand ...
  The silver gates of the Moon unbar;
In heaven each angel hand
  Hangs a white throbbing star.

To Pan

O Thou who dost with joy and dalliance
Enter Thy kingdom of the flowery Spring,
While all the sleeping woodland echoes ring
With silver-fluted music, song, and dance -
Lo! I have found a throne-bower meet for Thee,
Thou nimble-footed God of Arcady ...

Above Thy rose-encircled brows shall spread
The white-plumed blossoms of a chestnut tree,
Laburnum, golden-teared, hang heavily
Over Thy soft and sun-kissed emerald bed;
A screen of Persian lilac, mauve and white,
To shield Thee from the noon-tide's brazen glare,
And when dim evening sorrows into night,
A little sighful breeze shall stir the soft and
            scented air.
Those bright-winged messengers of happiness
Whose day-long lives fade with the dying day,
Shall flaunt their silk-sheened raiment dazzlingly
So Thy tired limbs forget their weariness:
Winged melodies shall pulse the dreaming hours,
Dragon flies dart and poise caressingly,
With deep, monotonous undertone the bee
Sips the hid sweets from unreluctant flowers:
All Nature's children shall to Thee pay toll
In worship glad-each after his own kind -
Flower songs, soft singing rain, and sobbing wind,
And distant thunder's diapasoned roll.
But when the silver moon hangs calm and mute,
Awake, and call the world to dance with 
            magic of Thy flute!

The Wind

When God made me, unfettered, free,
  To rule o'er endless space,
He said "No man thy path shall scan
  Or look upon thy face;
Thy strength shall nurse My universe,
  Thou shalt My herald be;
On land and lake thy voice shall make
  Tempestuous minstrelsy."

I rule the storm, my fingers form
  The banners of the sky;
I rouse the deep from slothful sleep
  And hurl the waters high;
Upon the rill I breathe until
  It shivers into song,
And then away I dance, and play
  The forest paths along.

Fast, fast I sweep through valleys deep,
  I leap from hill to hill;
No man may tame my wild acclaim
  Or quell my laughter shrill;
Sometimes I soar from sea and shore
  With plashy lightnings shod;
I strew earth's way with petals gay
  For the white feet of God.

Oxford (3.8.20)

I have heard God to-day,
  And seen Him, hour by hour,
The shadow of Himself reveal
  In river, field, and flower.

A little soft wind at Dawn
  A grey cloud fringed with fire,
And, when the Night's hope died,
  Sunrise on Magdalen spire.

The morning hymn of flowers,
  The willows slim that sway
To the river singing by,
  And sweet rain-scented hay.

The Sun on his highest throne,
  The lingering hush of Noon,
The white stars hung in heaven,
  Over the hills, new moon.

Oxford (29.7.20)

To-day I have put back the hands of Time
Ten years, and heard the bells of Oxford chime
Like some celestial choir the slow, sweet hours;
And wandered in old gardens, gay with flowers,
Kissing the roses heavy with late rain;
Dim cloisters echoed to my steps. Again
I felt the quiet, holy eyes of Peace
Which, through the rolling centuries, never cease
To watch o'er this old town.
                                                    I saw day die.
And later, when a slow moon climbed the sky,
Silvering wall and temple, spire and dome,
I felt as one long lost returning home,
Marvelling how peacefully the city slept,
And then I suddenly turned away - and wept.

Oxford (to P.B.)

Do you recall how, where the river sings
By Magdalen tower, an old, forgotten song,
Night after night we talked of right and wrong,
Of life to come, and vowed to do great things?
You with your sword would, like some knight of old,
Win honour and renown for England's sake;
I with my written word would strive to make
Men happier, and bring back the Age of Gold.
Ah! little did we dream who 'neath the moon
Laid such brave plans, eternal friendship swore,
That death would shatter all our hopes so soon
And tear our lives apart for evermore!

Over your grave the crimson poppies flare:
All my heart's happiness lies buried there.

After Plotinus

As I leant from my window watching
  The crowded city street,
I saw a little flower-girl
  Pass by on hurrying feet.

And from her basket, burdened
  With blossoms sweet and rare,
There fell a perfect, new blown rose
  And lay, unheeded, there.

A woman stepped across it,
  And three men passed it by,
But a fourth man stooped, and raised it,
  And bore it tenderly.

There was no beauty in the rose,
  Four souls were blind and dull,
The fifth saw mirrored in the flower
  His own Mind Beautiful.

For a Birthday

Fair lilies in an amber bowl; a song
  New born of unheard harmonies above;
A blue and silver book of fragrant thoughts;
  I give you these - all wrapped about with love.

The Cloud

As down the busy street I walked,
  Weary of noise and voices loud,
Across the skies serenity
  There passed a little lonely cloud.

So pure and passionless it seemed,
  So exquisitely frail a thing,
As white and light as falling snow,
  Or feather's of an angel's wing.

It moved, not with vague, viewless aim,
  But steadily, to instinct true,
As if some unseen hand should point
  A pathway through the heaven's blue:

Keeping its calm contented course,
  Complaining not, nor seeking rest,
One glorious flame-edged moment paused -
  Then died in the heart of the glowing west.

Weariness fled: Again I knew
  Hope, and a sweet serenity;
I said, "Even so Myself shall pass
  To the haven of God's immensity.

The True Philosophy

Still, armed with creeds and wordy argument,
The Seekers after Wisdom strive to rend
The veil from Death, to paint Life's true intent,
The whence we are, Wherefore, and Wither tend.
Plato, perchance, who taught Athenian youth
To love the Beautiful, descried of Truth
Some gleam, but since, there came who would propound
Faiths more transcendent , subtleties profound:
All lost, as we are lost, in vague surmise!

I do maintain that they alone were wise
Who, plain and unperplexed, their pathway trod,
Content to feel within themselves the Light
Divine unquestioned, ever burning bright,
And raised an altar to "The Unknown God."

To Pierrot

Midnight. In my quiet room,
Where nothing stirs in the velvet gloom
Save the firelight flickering silently,
We sit - my Pierrot and I.

We speak no word, for words are vain
When one loves and is beloved again -
Only his soft brown eyes exclaim:
"Je t'aime ... toujours je t'aime, je t'aime."

Dear God! I think when a man may look
In a loved one's soul, like an open book,
And finds it wholly clean and bright,
The dread of everlasting night
Dies utterly ... To him are given
There and then the joys of Heaven!

Parting

No wind walks in the street to-night,
  In heaven wakes no star;
Deep clouds have just put out the light
  Of the moon's bright scimitar.

Winter's adamantine hand
  Falls on all below;
The trees that laugh so gaily stand
  Weary, wan with snow.

But we, whom the chill night parts,
  Beneath the pale lamp-gleams
Kiss, warm and happy, for our hearts
  Are aglow with love and dreams.

To My Mother

She is not dead - but dwells for evermore
  In some fair garden where the lilies blow;
Ah! I do think Christ met her at the door
  With arms flower-filled - because she loved them so.
I think His own dear Mother smiled with eyes
  Of heavenly love, and kissed her tenderly,
And showed her all the mansions of the skies
  And all the splendour of her life to be.

She knew no thought of self, where'er she trod
  Her soul spread happiness in every place.
Haply she tends the little ones of God
  Seeing, as they, the Father face to face.
Maybe she falls, when her glad task is done,
  On happy sleep and dreams of me, her son.

My Mother's Sleep

She lay like a little child
  So young and fair -
I think Death's angel smiled
  To see her there!

She was too fine for us,
  To heaven too near;
A soul too glorious
  To linger here.

She knew God's kingdom lay
  No place apart,
Finding it day by day
  In her own heart.

For her, whose life was love
  All prayer is vain;
Ask rather that above
  We meet again!

On seeing the "Mercurio in riposo" in the British Museum

Here is no transient thing, frail, fugitive!
       This marvellous imaged Mercury shall live -
This flawless form endure eternally
When we and all our loves have ceased to be.
Within this sheeny bronzen shell lies pent
The spirit of Beauty - can Beauty die?
Sooner believe the High Gods impotent
Swayed by the self same Fates as you or I!
Mercury rests; but with far seeing gaze
Ponders perchance the unfathomable ways
Of Gods to men, the unsearchable decrees
Disputes divine, celestial jealousies.
Sometimes I think this sculptured dream shall 
       soar
On swift wind-spurning feet; by mortals seen
       no more.

My Garden

Once, in my little garden
  Grew all lovely flowers -
Golden-hearted lilies swaying
  Through long sunny hours.

Roses white as moonlight,
  Pure and passionless,
Blooming, dying on the bosom
  Of their own loveliness.

Carnations red as rich old wine,
  Violets, a great store
Of Boy's-love, Heartsease, Eglantine,
  And thousand blossoms more.
                    
                    . . .  . . .

Now, desolate lies my garden
  As the blank skies above -
Youth and Happiness are fled
  And I am sick of Love.

Only, in one love corner
  I tend my poppies yet,
Lest, happily, their presence
  May help me to forget!

 

The Beautiful

Long years ago there came to me in sleep
The vision of a boy divinely fair;
His eyes were moon-kissed seas, serene and deep,
Elysian blossoms crowned his golden hair;
Light flowed around him, gently fell his voice
Like a soft-singing shower of silver dew,
Long time he gazed, then smiling, spoke "Rejoice!
Seek only Me, for I alone am true!"

Straightway he fled upborne within a maze
Of mighty wings and music wonderful,
Whilst all the air grew dizzy with the praise
Of voices crying loud, "The Beautiful."
Heavenwards he vanished - but his radiant face
Still haunts me - a pure spiritual joy,
And well I know he makes his dwelling-place
In the clear honest eyes of any boy.

Vision

I saw a slender fair-haired English lad
  High poised upon a lonely sea-girt rock;
All spiritual he seemed - an Ariel clad
  with sunlight: Round his feet with
    thunderous shock
Swept the wind-pinioned breakers furiously,
  Flinging aloft great clouds of crystal spray
Wherein, half-seen, his fair limbs gleamed -
    but he
  As a statue stood scorning the Sea King's
    sway.
I could not see his face - so steadfastly
  He scanned the waters where the red sun
    laid
A path of opal flame; impatiently
  I waited long-long-at the last I prayed
"Lord Eros, let me look into his eyes" -
  He turning smiled - his eyes were Paradise.

Bude, Sept., 1920

To G. O'c.

More fair than He, by Hercules beloved;
Than Ganymede: or that fond foolish boy,
Whose image mirrored in the water proved
A passion hopeless and a barren joy -
You stood before me that bright summer's morn
Most fair and splendid of the son's of men,
And all the grace and beauty that was Greece
In you united and were born again!
A wave of soft dark hair, bright laughing eyes,
Red lips, lithe sun-browned limbs bespoke a soul
Of fire - a hero spirit brave and bold
Which should not with the waning years grow old;
In vain I tried to speak - my lips were dumb;
Your presence held me, and your eyes said "Come!"

Can we forget those sultry summer days
When, swift as to our little isle we sped,
The blue sea shimmered in the noontide haze,
The soft wind swept the spray-clouds overhead?
And later, when a pensive moon arose
Charming with magic all the twilight hour,
Time, and the World stood still - in all God's earth
There was no one but YOU - just as a flower
To its own kindred soul heart-open lies
Our hearts to one another were laid bare,
And we were one with God , and shared with Him
The secret of the Spheres; the Seraphim
Beat music wings - the Darkness fell and then -
We stumbled back to the little world of men!

Of all my days I hold that one most dear
When, just as noontide deepened into gloom
I stood beside you in my little room,
And showed you all my treasures. Then - so near
Was your loved presence that my soul's still deeps
Trembled to tempest; like a barque I rode
Helpless upon the waves of that passionate sea -
I said My secret lies with God and Me!
I longed to hold you in my arms, to kiss
The curve of your soft cheek; I dared not speak
Lest from our hearts true unison might evolve
A discord that we never would resolve;
But when I thought "Must Friendship end in this?"
You suddenly raised your face - and claimed my kiss!"

To a friend who told me I was happy

                                       I

You think I'm happy? - Little do you know
Who only mark the bland, exterior Me,
My soul is like a leaf swept ceaselessly
By every gust of passion to and fro;
Long have I been Love's fool and, as a child
Soon weary of new playthings casts them by,
Tired of my pleasures bought so wantonly;
Then turned to arduous tasks, and in the wild
Sweet face of Nature gazed, yearning to find
Some healing for my spirit's restlessness,
With philosophic love enriched my mind
Whence sprung a strange, new faith, fresh
       hopefulness,
Until I dreamt I knew Life's mystery -
Like a fool boasting "Who so safe as I?"

                                       II

Suddenly into my life there came a boy
Of sixteen summers, whose fresh lovely face
Was radiant as the Dawning like a joy
That smiles in dreams, swift flies, leaving no trace
Save a vague sense of awe and wonderment:
O never did words live wherewith to tell
His body's beauty! - rather be content
To dream upon his star-white limbs, so well
And surely formed as if in marble cast,
Which after aeons of slumber woke to life.
His eyes were like clear waters, when the last
Gold o' the sun lies locked in shadowy strife
With imaged cloud and grass at close of day -
Deep mirrored waters, unperturbed alway.

                                       III

I love this boy, not for his beauty only,
But just because my life that was so lonely
Knows in his presence some strange healing
       power,
An unfamiliar peace - as if each hour
Should pause a little in its swift-winged flight
And breathe a benediction. In his bright
Blue eyes his happy spirit sits and smiles,
And never evil dreams, or wanton wiles,
Or lusts o'ercloud their sweet serenity:
I dare not hope - but, when he looks at me,
Something half-shy, half-trusting, leaps therein
And shadows of dead passion and old sin
All dreadful haunting memories, take flight -
You think I'm happy? Well - Perhaps you're
       right!

A Boy's Love

I love rivers, fields, and flowers,
  Colour, Sound and Light,
Evening, when the last long hours
  Sorrow into night.
But I know no greater joy
Than the face of some fair boy.

I love the stars that shyly peep
  At the break of day;
Seas that sing themselves to sleep,
  Tired of windy play;
Yet I con no better bliss
Than a fair boy's shy sweet kiss.

I love royal winds that sweep
  Strong, unfettered, free;
I love Autumn leaves that weep
  Summer's pagentry;
But my hope of Heaven lies
In a fair boy's starry eyes.

What is Beauty, what is Truth,
  What Philosopy,
Save the love of clean-limbed youth,
  Fearless, frank and free?
Far, all other joys above
Is a boy's pure radiant love!

To A. L. (In Elizabethan vein)

Born of the South, in this our England bred,
E'en Ganymede is jealous of your grace;
Your love-enticing lips so cherry-red,
The tender radiant beauty of your face;
Your cheeks more sweetly shaped than artists
       know,
Rose-fresh, undimmed by England's misty
       rains,
Whose dusky glow, carnation stol'n doth show
Warm India's blood is leaping through your veins.
I look, and love, and loving, long to kiss
Your eyes with raven lashes curtain'd down,
Before whose dreamy-sweat deliciousness
Faint-waxing, fades the wall-flower's sunny
       brown.
O smile! and let me see the dimples play
That have my soul enchained, and stolen my
       heart away!

To A. K. M.

"He was a verray perfight gentil knight."

O Love, since Thou from Chaos did'st create
The world, the elemental atoms mate
In happy concord, glad complexity,
Lo! all things share in Thine eternity;
By Thee they live, Thine all-pervading breath
Their life sustains - what should they know of 
       Death?
The silken rose her fragrant censer shakes
O'er paths untrod and lonely woodland brakes
With joyful heart to see her incense rise,
By gentle winds upborne through starry skies
To the very gates of Heaven for Thy delight.
Who has not trod a lonely shore by night,
And heard the restless heart-beat of the sea
Yearning for unity eternal with Thee?
Who has not seen the sun, Thine ardent lover,
'Ere his triumphant march is wholly over,
Blush fiery-red as slowly down the West
He sinks to sleep upon Thy loving breast?
Who has not heard a nightingale in June
Charm with soft, fluted song the listening
       moon,
Trilling in tones half plaintive and half gay
Some olden tale of hearts beneath Thy sway?

Though all things pass away, yet nothing dies;
The gold that now the sunset glorifies
May change, dissolved to particles of light,
Making more glad to-morrow's morning
       bright;
Or sleep, and wake at some appointed hour
To gild the pollen of a lily flower,
But never, never die.
                                   O King of Melody,
Whose mind resolves into one perfect harmony
Each human heart's vague, indecisive chord,
Thou omnipresent, all-compassionate Lord,
To whom the voice of man is dearer far
Than song of seraphim or morning star,
Forgive me! Who with stumbling, fettered
       tongue
Presume to raise my paean of praise among
Immortal voices, who have strung for Thee
Melodious pearls of song and poesy.

I sing of him whose happy presence crowned
My manhood's prime with joy, whose spirit
       fast bound
To mine in bonds of mutual love, shone clear
As crystal, bright as virgin gold. So near
He seemed to heaven. His voice, quiet as a
       sea,
When moony wavelets lap caressingly
Some plashy shore beneath the summer night,
Rang oftentimes with laughter, clear and light
As waters tumbling o'er some dizzy height.
Dim twilight dreamed within his violet eyes -
Visions half-fledged and fleet-winged phantasies
Flashed in those dusky pools, as sun starts play
O'er streams slow gliding on an April day.
As rarest perfumes dwell in frailest flowers,
So was his mind-endowed with airy powers,
Thoughts broad and sunny, loath to be confined
By cramping trammels of the flesh-enshrined
In a lithe body, slender, beautiful.
O Death! surely one pang, swift, pitiful,
Pierced even Thine iron heart that one so fair
Should tread the dreadful halls of darkness,
       where
No gentle lilies blow, nor roses bloom,
Even before happy Fate had in her loom
Spun the rich dawning of his manhood's year!

Our former lives he loved to hear retold
Our friendship's happy dawn in days of old -
The golden age of Hellas, where he was
Fair-haired Autolycus - I Cleinias,
His lover-host; the sumptuous banquet spread
Where purple-robed guests, violet-garlanded
In his high honour, sunny music made
Till all the listening marble colonnade
Rang with his praises, while the sky's blue pall
Beamed like a benediction over all.

A thousand years our bodies lay at rest
While we, Love's servitors, at His behest
Through the Third Heaven ranged, oft
       journeying far
In the train of that bright sun-caressing star
Hespherus-Phosphor; or, on festal days
Bestrewed with roses white the starry ways
Whereby celestial choirs processional
With many a song and hymn antiphonal
Ascend the Primal Heaven Crystalline
Where all in one grand symphony combine.

Thus through the centuries, oft-born again -
Each life a link in Love's eternal chain -
We knew, at length, this England, this dear
       land
Of blossomy lanes, royal hills, and dappled
       strand
Swept by the ever-singing seas. In her
All former ages, all brave thoughts that stir
To knightly deeds, all strivings of the soul,
All noble aspirations, blend and blur,
Commingled in one fiery, passionate whole.

In Somerset I know a little glade -
A murmurous place for poets and lovers made,
Where summer voices sing the whole day long,
And skiey bluebells ring their evensong;
Here, couched in mossy grass, here I oft read
Some antique legend of the mighty dead,
With Coeur de Lion trod the Holy Land,
Nor ever dreamt that we also should stand
To man the battle line, and hear the ring
Of steel and guns of England thundering.

I was not with him when at dawn he led
His men, with courage flaming high, and head
Uplifted, proud to meet Death face-to-face;
Nor marked how instantly that cold embrace
Chilled the white ardour of his famous rush
Against o'erwhelming odds; nor heard the
       hush
Most bitter-eloquent that followed his last
       shout
Of Victory; nor saw his eyes go out -
But I remember how, alone, I stood
At the same hour within a shattered wood -
A charnel-house so swept by War's wild rage
It seemed that nothing ever could assuage
Its woe, or cheer its countenance forlorn -
Not even the glad laughter of that sunny morn.
And suddenly, as when on breathless days
Skies darken, and through all the oppressive
       ways
Steals a chill breath, so did a wind sweep
       through
The chambers of my spirit, and I knew
That Kenneth, my beloved, was fallen on sleep.

O Love! strong comforter of those who needs
       must weep,
Even in the darkest hour, for that firm faith
Which soars triumphant through the gates of
       Death
I thank Thee - most of all for that quiet voice
Which in my heart unceasing cries "Rejoice!
He whom thou lovest is safe in Paradise."
All lovely things his presence tell - his eyes
Smile out from every dewy violet;
And in each little wave which burns, at set
Of sun, like a soft golden flame I see
His crisp, bright hair; there is no melody
But brings the echo of his voice, no rare
Unhoped for joy wherein he does not share;
I feel his arms around me everywhere.

There was a time when earth and sky and sea
Bore witness of their own reality;
But now in all things natural I find
Expression of the One Eternal Mind.
Love only is -  and we, who day by day
Like blind men walk Life's labyrinthine way,
May hear His voice in every rushing wind,
His laughter in deep booming seas, and find
A glory in the meekest flower that blows
No less divine than that which crowns the
       rose.
All Life is Love - I am content to pray,
To work, to hope, to welcome each new day,
Blessing, and blessed, and at the last to be
Lulled in the arms of Love's immensity
Till my Beloved's kiss awakens me.

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