Elena Vacarescu.

The bard of Dimbovitza: Romanian folk-songs online

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And when we pass some hut, I say :

^^ Let us linger here awhile, this hut seemeth pleasant to

me.
But he answers: "Never a hut may open its doors to

thee.'*
And when I ask him : " Friend, art thou not yet weary ? "
He answers : " I ? I rest in thy weariness.
Refresh myself in thy sweat.*'
Even on my own hearth
I can never set him down over against me,
He clings to my shoulder always —
I know not even his face.
Then I say to him : " Thou unknown one ! "
And he answers me : " Thou accurst ! "

Go not over the little bridge.

It is too old.
The trees that have been felled lie on the earthy
And the birds that still would perch upon their boughs
Must fly very close to earth.



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Barren. 89



BARREN,

Flow through the plains ^ river ^ flow onward afar ;

My soul is broken within me^ the days flee by.

When the sun in his might appearethy the birds sing abud^

With flowers the maidens gleefully deck their hair.

I know my cottage ^ because *tis the smallest of all,

And the storks already have built them two nests thereon*

I AM she, that hath borne no children ;

Yet there is no one hath cursed me, I look the same as the

others.
But the nests pity me even ;
The sun^ the mother of stars, hath compassion upon me,

and saith :
^' O childless woman ! what dost thou with all the days I

make bright ? "
Mine ear is full of the murmur of rocking cradles.
" For a single cradle," saith Nature, '* I would give every

one of my graves.*'
Joy shrinketh and turneth from me, like the setting sun

from the earth.
Fruitful women draw nigh me, and tenderly clasp my

hand ;
But alone am I and powerless, when the anguish sweeps

over me.



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90 Ltiteplayers Songs.

My threshold makes question and asks me : ^ Speak, oh,

when will he come ? "
And I have no words to answer.

I feel a horror come o'er me of all the days and the nights.
Yet beneath my heart there singeth, unceasing, a voice

in me.
And I ask : " Is it his, perchance ? "
But nay, for I know it is only the voice of my yearning

desire.
And then I speak to the rivers : " Would ye make the

plains fruitful indeed ? "
I am filled with hate for the earth, that is fi-uitful and

fkileth not.
Only the graves I love, for in them naught quickens more,
Future for them there is none, even as for me.
Oh, what a flood of laughter he would bring to this

threshold of mine !
And oh, how sweetly slumber beneath the sun of my

smile !
Oh, and how were I blessed, if I could but look in his

eyes.
Drowning my gaze in his, and therein wholly forgetting
That other joys were on earth !
Then would the nests and the huts call me their sister, if

only

His mother were I !
For I hear his voice that singeth, unceasing, beneath my

heart,



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Barren. 9 1

For I know that he lives in me, only he cannot be born.
And I may possess of him nothing except my yearning

desire !
Mine ear is full of the murmur of rocking cradles.

Flow thrmgh the plains^ river y flow onward afar^

My soul is broken within me, the days flee by.

When the sun in his might appearethy the birds sing aloud^

With flowers the maidens gleefully deck their hair.

I know my cottage^ because ^tis the smallest of all^

And the storks already have built them two nests thereon.



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92 Luteplayers Songs.



HE THAT TOOK NOTHING.

See how it raineth ! and the corn is cut upon the plain^
And I have Ufi my sickle^ too^ forgotten ^mid the grain ;
Now there it lies — ah^ woe is me ! beneath the falling rain.

Of all the lads that joined the dance, each took some

sign from me —
One took my girdle, and thou know'st full well which

that may be,
The one, my sister of the cross, I &shioned with thee.

My chain, sweet sister of the cross, another took ; what

needs
To tell thee which — ^the one that hath two strings of

golden beads.

Another took my flower from me — and which one, dost

thou know ?
It is, my sister of the cross, the floweret that doth blow
In autumn days among the grass where thick the plum-
trees grow.

But only one took naught away — and know'st thou, sister,

who ?
He, of whom oft I spake to thee, when I most silent grew.
He, little sister of the cross, it is I love so true.



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He that took Nothing. 93

Then quick run after him, he dwells beside the mill-pool

deep.
And through his slumbers murmuring on, their watch the

waters keep.
O happy water, that may sing and lull him in his sleep !

Then quickly run thou after him, my sister, do not stay
To watch the flocks upon the hill, that browse the live-
long day ;
Bring him a girdle and a chain, yea, and a flower — and
say:

^' I found them hard beside the mill, and all of them are

thine,**
But stay not longer, lest thou too shouldst love him, sister

mine;

That we may both not have to weep together, oh beware !
My tears could not love thy tears, nor yet my care thy

care;
They could not dwell within my hut, nor would be

welcome there.

See how it raineth ! and the com is cut upon the plain^
And I have Ufi my sickle^ too^ forgotten *mid the grain ;
Now there it lies — ab^ woe is me I beneath the falling rain.



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94 Luteplayers Songs.



DIRGE.

ON THE DEATH OF A YOUNG MAN.

How thou art sleeping, sleeping !

Thy horse, without, hath neighed ;

The plains around have heard it,

And wondering stand the plains ;

" Why dost thou neigh at morning

So early, gentle horse ? '*

The maize hath bowed its head ;

The plain, its mother, felt it,

Then was the plain afraid ;

^ Why dost thou bend above me,

Now that no wind is blowing,

Thou maize, proud child of mine ? "

Oh wander, wander — never turn about —

On through the wood, where little birds are singing,

Down to the village wander,

On through the courtyard, where the oxen lie —

Oh wander, wander, neither turn thee back.

Oh wander, wander, never turn about.

But seek the house and tread the threshold's stone,

Then pass into the chamber i



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Dirge. 95

What there thou seest, tell aloud to none
Yea, do as. though thou, ^eing, didst not see ;
For thou wilt wish thou wert the threshold-stone.
And hadst no need to look on such a sight.

How thou art sleeping now !
Heaven envied mother Earth because of thee;
Then would not Earth that Heaven should ^nyy her,

Because Heaven gave her

The sunshine's joy.

The stars* mild light,
The blessings of the blossom-bringing rain.
So in requital. Earth gave thee to Heaven.
Then go thou up to Heaven,

Sent from the Earth ;
For all the Earth hath naught so &ir as thou.
Go, laden with the whole world's lamentations,

Go hence with all its tears.
Yea, I have washed thee with my tears,

.And shrouded thee in sighs.
Then go, that Heaven may be content — but let it
Ask for no more, since it hath taken thee.

How thou art sleeping, sleeping !
Dark days may threaten this thy land to-morrow —

But thou hast left the road ;
Thy bride be fein to veil her head ^ to-morrow —

But thou hast left the road.

* Note 5. •



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96 Luteplayer's Songs.

For thee, to-morrow

Is as an overthrown and empty nest.

How thou art sleeping, sleeping!

Where is thy breath ?

And yet the wind still breathes !

Where is thine eyes* dear light ?

And yet our eyes are open !

Now hast thou cast thy spade upon the ground,

And lain thee down to die !

Thy horse, without, hath neighed ;
The plains around have heard it,
And wondering stand the plains j
** Why dost thou neigh at morning
So early, gentle horse ? '*
The niaize hath bowed itself;
The plain, its mother, felt it,
Then was the plain afraid ;
« Why dost thou bend above me.
Now that no wind is blowing.
Thou maize, proud child of mine ? **



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Dirge. 97



DIRGE,

ON THE DEATH OF A MAIDEN.

Down from the hill I went
On to the plain^ and on the plain I saw
The budding meadows — and a tender maiden
Who fiercely strove with Death.

Dead ! she is dead !

The glory of the day is gone.

The threshold's light is quenched !
Who will go forth now in the morning early,
To wake again the old well's echoes deep,
And whose gay singing will reply at even.
Now, to the plaintive voices of the sheep ? .
Who will now send the sound of laughter ringing

Adown our pathways steep ?

Who now will set the merry spindle dancing,
And deftly catch it, when it slips away ?
The very sun shone but for her alone —
God ! Thou hadst better have let die the sun !
For her the maize shook out its golden hair —
Oh ! hadst Thou rather taken from the maize,

Its golden hair, my God !
The stars at night all fell from out the sky,

H



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98 huteplayers Songs.

Only that they might reach her !
And now the earth will take and hide her from us.
Whenever she did pass the fresh-turned furrows,

The earth would say to her :
^* Fair maid, how gladly would I make thee mine,
** To cradle thee and rock thee in my lap.

There, where all roots do quicken.
For see, I give the plain so many flowers,
Flowers that glitter in the light of day \
Now would I have this one, this only flower.

All to myself.
Her would I gently cover.

Nourish myself with her."

So the earth took her ;
And clasps her now so closely in its arms.
But yet the maiden to the earth made answer :

" Good, fresh earth, take me not !
I would not thou shouldst clasp me in thine arms.
Will not the quickening of the seeds suffice thee,

' And the light step of lovers ?

O good, fresh earth.
Let me not ever come to sleep beneath thee !
For I would veil my head, and be a wife,

A woman, strong for toil }
And I will bear thee fair and noble children

To till thy ground.
Good, fresh earth, take me not ! **

But the earth took her.



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Dirge. 99

And the earth liolds her fast within its arms,

And gives her back no more.
Down from the hill she went and o'er the meadows.
Wandering through deep night, and strove with Deaths
Even as tangled spindles strive together.

Dead ! she is dead !

The glory of the day is gone,

The threshold's light is quenched.
Who will go forth, now, in the morning early.
To wake again the old well's echoes deep ?
And whose gay singing will reply at even.
Now, to the plaintive voices of the sheep ?
Who will now send the sound of laughter ringing

Adown our pathways steep ?



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loo Luteplayers Songs.



DIRGE.

ON THE DEATH OF A CHILD.

The river went weeping, weeping !

Ah me ! how it did weep !

But I would never heed it,

The weeping of the river,

Whikt thou wert at my breast.

The stars — poor stars — ^were weeping.

But I would not hear their weeping

Whilst yet I heard thy voice.
Unhappy men drew nigh me and told me of their woe.
They said : ** We are the sorrow of all humanity.**
But I had no compassion for human misery,
Whilst thou wert with me stilL

Then these — the river with its weeping.

The piteous stars, the miserable men,'

All prayed the earth's dark depths to take thee from me.

That so my woe might understand their woe j

And now — I weep.
Yet weep I not for human misery.
Nor for the stars' complaining,
Nor for the rivePs wailing,
I weep for thee alone, most miserly,



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Dirge. loi

Keep all my tears for thee !
Now I must rock for ever empty arms.
That grieve they have no burden any more.
Now I must sing, and know the while, no ears

Are there to hearken.
The birds will ask me : " To whom singest thou ? '*
The moon look down and ask : '* Whom rockest thou ? "
The grave will be right proud, while I am cursed.

That I did give her thee.
My womb upbraideth me, because I gave
To Death the gift that once she gave to me,

The gift that sprung from her.
Now I must see thy sleep, and never know

Whether this sleep be sweet.

Then do I ask of Earth :

" Is the sleep sweet indeed.

That in thy lap we sleep ? "
But ah ! thou knowest. Earth misliketh pity,

And loves to hold her peace !
Wilt thou, then, answer in her stead, and say :

" What do the birds, O mother.

Since I have gone to sleep ?

And the river with its pebbles.

Since I have gone to sleep ?

And thy broken heart, O mother.

Thy little heart, dear mother.

Since I have gone to sleep ?

Does my fiither guide the oxen.



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I02 Luteplayers Songs.

Walking beside the ploughshare.
Since I have gone to sleep ? '*
Oh, say all this to me !
Answer instead of Earth, that knows no pity.
And loves to hold her peace.

The river went weeping, weeping !
Ah me ! how it did weep !
But I would never heed it.
The weeping of the river.
Whilst thou wert at my breast.
The stars, poor stars, were weeping,
But I would not hear their weeping.
Whilst yet I heard thy voice.



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SPINNING SONGS.



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SPINNING SONCS.

«

I.

What didst thou, mother, when thou wert a maiden ?-

I was young. —

Didst thou, like me, hark to the moon's soft footfalls

Across the sky ?
Or didst thou watch the little stars' betrothal ? —

Thy father cometh home, leave the door open. —

Down to the fountain didst thou go, and there,
Thy wooden pitcher filled, didst thou yet linger
Another hour, with the full pitcher by thee ? —

I was young. —

And did thy tears make glad thy countenance ?
And did thy sleep bring gladness to the night ?
And did thy dreams bring gladness to thy sleep ?
And didst thou smile, even by graves, despite
Thy pity for the dead ? —

Thy fiither cometh home, leave the door open. —



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io6 Spinning Songs.

Lovedst thou strawberries and raspberries,
Because they are as red as maidens' lips ?
Didst love thy girdle for its many pearls,
The river and the wood, because they lie

So close behind the village ?
Didst love the beating of thy heart,
There close beneath thy bodice,
Even although *twere not thy Sunday bodice ? —

— ^Thy &ther cometh home, leave the door open.



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spinning Songs. 107

II.

What dost thou seek in the wood by night ? —

I seek my youth, and I do not know
What path she took, for with footsteps h'ght
She fied^ and fiist. I can see her go,
Yet never can reach her ; and now again
I catch a glimpse through the forest trees
Of her white dress fluttering in the breeze ;
I can hear the chink of her dancing chain.
And the ring of her laughter — and see her stay
By the brook to drink ; and then I say :
•* Dear Youth ! let me thy distaff touch,
And from thy pitcher drink with thee ;
These berries take — thou lovest such !
And on the grass come dance with me/'

What dost thou seek in the wood by night ? —

I seek my love-— yea, him that passed

On his young brown horse, so light and &st ;

Rode through the twilight, and waited not

For the moon to give him her gentle light.

And waited not for the sun to rise.

Nor even until he had forgot



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io8 Spinning Songs.

My kiss, that on his lips yet lies.

The sound of his voice in the wind I heard,

And it spoke to the wind and the woodland bird.

But to me, not a single word.
I said : ** Dear love, thy haste despite,
Say but one word to me, and I
Whatever thou askest will reply !**

What dost thou seek in the wood by night ?



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spinning Songs. 109



III.

What hath he done, the luckless fellow.
That thou wilt speak to him no more ^
Are ye not of the self-same village ?

Why wilt thou, sister, not sit down by me ?
And what awaitest thou, to stand so long ?

Look down the way no longer.

Watch the old well no longer,
But rather hark to me, the while I sing.

What hath he done — the luckless fellow,
That thou wilt speak to him no more ?
Are ye not of the self-same village ? —

— Down to the river-«ide we went together.
He said : '' Now hearken, hearken to the wind

That rustles through the leaves."
I said : " Oh see, oh see the merry sunshine

That shineth through the wavelet."

He said : " I love, I swear I love, a woman

Thou knowest not."
I said : " I love, I swear I love, a lad

Of whom thou knowest naught."

He said : " That woman ceaseless weeps for me."



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1 1 o spinning Songs.

And I replied : " That lad awaiteth me."
Then from the river we went hence together.
And I, I knew full well he was my lad ;
And he, he surely knew I was that woman.

But yet—

Because of all that sunshine in the water,

And of the wind that rustled through the leaves,

We both were silent — ^we kept silence both. —

What hath he done, the luckless fellow.
That thou wilt speak to him no more,
Are ye not of the self-same village ?



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spinning Songs. 1 1 1



IV.

Lie down upon the earthy

Then thou canst hear the sound of the seeds quickening.

Neighbour, what doth thy husband when he cometh

home from work ? —
— He thinks of her he loved before he knew me.
She wore about her throat a necklace of red beads,
Her teeth were white, as white as a string of mock peark.

And he loved her.
She went away with another.
And then he took me to wife.
Because I was strong to work.

Lie down upon the earthy

Then thou canst hear the sound of the seeds quickening.

But his heart is with that other ;

It went the way she went

Then I talk to him of her, that his heart may stay with

me;
I ask what her face was like,
Although I know full well — he has told me a hundred

times ;
I listen to him, and so the hours pass by.
And when I have pleased him, he says :



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1 1 2 Spinning Songs.

"Thou art like her."
But when I cross him, he says :
" Another woman art thou than she.*'
But I, I am strong to work, thou know est it, neighbour.

Lie down upon the earthy

Then thou canst hear the sound of the seeds quickening.

As soon as I have a daughter, I will tell her :
** A necklace of red beads put around thy throat.

That men may love thee.*'
And if I have a boy, I will say to him :
*' Follow the woman whose teeth are like a string of mock

pearls."
For my husband always speaks of her ;
I feel as though I had known her.
As though she had been an elder sister of mine,

Who was dead.
And my husband always speaks to me of her.

Lie down upon the earthy

Then thou canst hear the sound of the seeds quickening.



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spinning Songs, 113



V.

Loot on the plain, look not upon myfaci^
Thi whili I speak to thee.

On winter evenings^ when 'it snows, it snows.

My little sister asks me, wherefore now

The earth has such white hair,

Such cold, long hair, th^t whoUy covers it ?

I tell my sister: Earth has grown so old.

Puts no more flowers in her snow-white hair.

Nor may the lovers dare

To love each other any more, or speak »

Of their bright youth, seeing the Earth so old.

The sun smiles down on Earth no more — he sajrs :

** I loved thee whilst thou yet wert green, but now

What hast thou done with that thy spring ? '*

And Earth replies : ^ I gave it to the harvest,

But now the harvest's reaped,

I gave it to the maiden ; now the maiden

Hath veiled her head/*

Look on the plain^ look not upon my face.
The while, I speak tq tffee^

But spring will come again, amd Earth remember
Her snow-white hair np r^QX^:,
I



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114 Spinning Songs.

And to the harvest she will give her spring

Again, that it may ripen.

And she will give thee somewhat too, my sister*

Look on thi plain ^ look not upon my face.
The while I speak to thee.

Yes, she will give thee ev'rjr night new dreams.
And fragrant basil she will give thee^too,
And crystal water from the thawing rivers.

Look on the plain, look not upon myface^
The while I speak to thee.

But me — ^what will she give me, by the time

Her snow-white hair is gone ?

Only a little place far down beneath her.

That will she give to me — just long enough

To hold my little body ;

And she will give me, too, sleep for my heart.

And on my heart

Three flowers, and on ev*ry flower three tears.

One will be thine, I think, my little sister.

And one my mother's tear, and one my father's \

Only the tear of him, my heart's beloved.

Will not be there.

And all the flowers will fade, despite those tears.

When Earth shall have her snow-white hair again.

Look on the plain^ look not upon myface^
The while I speak to thee.



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AUTUMN.

A DRAMA.

TIME AND AUTHOR UNKNOlfN.



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AUTUMN.

The tree. My leaves have fallen, but it is not winter.
I have not yet felt any storm rush by.

The river. I will flow onward &st, to hear no more,
Yet have I been constrained to hear it all.

The wife* Come out and stand upon your thresholds,
neighbours,
That from my threshold I may see you all.
Tell me, what do the nests without the birds ?
My little child is lying in the grass.
His face is covered with the blades of grass.
While I did bear the child, I ever watched
The reaper work, that it might love the harvests ;
And when the boy was born, the meadow said :
" This is my child. And when he is grown up
Into a fine and stalwart lad, his bride
He will choose out, fbrgettfng all my love.
Yea, even as the brook forgets the mountain
When it flows down amid the flowery meads.**



The husband. Wife, hast thou washed the daggcr-evVy
morning.
At dawn, and ev'ry evening too, at nightfall ?



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1 1 8 Autumn.

The wife, O husband ! wherefore dost thou love the
^knife?

The husband. Throw wood upon the fire, and I will
tell thee.

The wife. Hush thee awhile^ until the fire doth burn.

The fire. I rise fi-om out the embers, like the seed
From out Earth's womb. I see the wife so pale,
So full of thought the husband. Round the chamber
I send my glance, and see the chamber empty.
Then will I sing my merry song to them :
I rise from out the embers, like the seed
Out from the womb of Earth. I quaff the sap,
Till I am drunk therewith, and so I die.

The wife. Oh tell me ! wherefore dost thou love the
knife?

The husband. My father loved it, for it waits for
blood.
Since first it had its being, it doth wait.
And says each morning : " Will it be to-day ? "
And ev'ry night: "Will it be done to-night ? "
It is to drink my blood ; for this I wash it.
My father spake : *' The knife has yet drunk naught,
Because it thirsts to drink our blood."

The wife. I fear

That dagger, like my shadow on the ground.
Yea, like the hour of death !



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A Drama. 1 1 9

The husband. What doth the child ?

The wife. It sleepeth in the grass — the blades of grass
Cover its little fece.

The husband. What doth the child ?

The wife. It journeys on along the way of life,
Even as a cart adown the highway moves.

The husband. What doth the child i

The wife. It hath within its veins

Thy blood, and in its blood our love's sweet warmth.

The husband. Wife, wife ! dost thou remember still
our love ?

The wife. I had spun off three distaffs, and had filled
The pitchers full with water, and already
Had prayed for all the dead — and cast my veil
Upon the hearth, because I was alone.
When from the field thou camest home that evening,
Didst bring me on thy spade the fresh earth's fi-agrance.
Thy hair was damp with sweat.

The husband. And then I went ;

I went away, and thou wert left alone.

The wife. I was alone, and sat and watched the ravens,
And watched the snow.

The husband. Thou wert alone.

The wife. O husband !

Why tarry on the threshold thus ?



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120 Autumn.

Tbi husband. I listen.

Tht wife* Oh listen not bjr night, for then one hears
The dead men talk, who upon earth had sorrow ;
They speak to us of sorrow too.

Thi husband. I listen.

Thi river. Art thou not he that went away, and now
We know thee scarce again.

The forest. Yea, thou art he

That went away — ^and we have all forgot thee.

The river. The winter came, and I was frozen over.

The forest. The winter came, and made me desolate.

The river. What didst thou find beside thy hearth ?

The husband. The child.

The forest. What didst thou find within thy house ?

The husband. The child.

The river. She felt it quick'ning in her womb, and

laughed.
The forest. It leaped within her womb^ and she was glad.
The river. Doit thou remember yet thy love, O man ?

The husband. Home from my work I came. My


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