August 30, 2016
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Reading this paragraph, I felt that this reflected the Puritan ideals of God’s absolute sovereignty, which relates back to the theme of election and the separatist ideals of the Puritan church. Only those who were pious and pure were among the elect, and these same people were the only ones allowed to be members of the Puritan church. This was done to create a “pure” congregation, similar to the pure glory of God. By remaining pious and becoming a part of the elect, Puritans believed that they would have the chance to live with God in heaven, which meant they would have the opportunity to bask in his “bright light luster” where no “earthly mould” could approach him. In this sense, becoming part of the elect meant becoming pure and holy, or unearthly, to be able to be in God’s presence in heaven.
I also felt that this paragraph reflected the Puritans ideals. It almost sounds to me like the speaker is talking from beyond the grave when he says “How full of glory then must thy Creator be? Who gave this bright light luster unto thee”, but I eventually began to have the feeling that the speaker just believes in God so passionately that he doesn’t need to be there to know what is waiting for him if he follows the Puritan ways. “as, to approach it, can no earthly mould” made me feel that the Puritans believed they were better than most and that with their pure ways was the only way one could approach heaven, and god at his throne.
I really liked this poem from “Contemplations”. The poem flows beautifully in the way it rhymes. Something that I noticed was that it really reflected how important God and religion was at this time. Bradstreet believes that “…he is goodness, wisdom, glory, light.” It’s apparent here that Bradstreet worships God. This poem also made me think about the Puritans’ idea of election. Puritans believed that they would have the chance to join “…he that dwells on high” because they were a church comprised of solely of those who were pure.
One thing that I did think about was the juxtaposition of this poem and the previous poem. The first poem, I believed, was talking about the sun god, Apollo, from Greek mythology. I am currently taking a class on Milton, a British author who lived in relatively this same time span (1608-1674) and where his writing mentions a lot of Greek mythology, this Early American Literature focuses more instead on God, since of course, that’s what they believed in. The juxtaposition of Poem 1, referencing Apollo and Poem 2, about God made me wonder about whether or not Greek mythology had a place in America during this time.
The poem in general is very religious. This paragraph stood out to me in particular because Bradstreet that the birth of humans is more noble than any other birth, yet humans also will not live as long as nature will. On the other hand, humans who follow this religious belief will end up living longer through eternal life after death.
Time seems to be a theme throughout Bradstreet’s poem, Contemplations. Here though, it really struck me as interesting because I sense an amount (maybe very small) of doubt from the speaker. Man is created inferior to nature, but isn’t allowed to feel inferiority without positivity. How hard would that be? I feel that is what Bradstreet is illustrating for us. Maybe I only think this because I know from previous classes that these poems weren’t written to be read by anyone but Bradstreet herself, but I do sense an insecurity from the speaker.
This stanza seems to echo Bradford and Winthrop’s writings/sermons whereby the importance of constancy in all times is stressed by the speaker. Faithfulness and loyalty to the church, as we learned, waned in later generations and it was remarked upon that this erosion or declension of the congregation was believed to be due to the individuals and not the church itself. Instead of searching for weaknesses within the church’s doctrine, we see again the Puritan’s attempts to place blame on the individual rather than the practices they followed. Members that were struggling with faith, or perhaps found the teachings too severe, were seen – as Bradstreet describes – “mariner(s)” that were more fair weather friends than true parishioners.
The naturalistic elements as well as the reference to “Diety” show the appeal to a higher being and appeal to God so revered and respected by the Puritan society during this time frame. Her apparent awe, and overwhelming wonderment at nature and creation, just shows the internal desire to live up to being deserving of these natural beauties and giving praise, possibly even out of fear for what would happen if honor was not given properly. The Puritan belief of being undeserving and grateful for all things given is seen “The more I look’d, the more I grew amaz’d…” Bradstreet also uses the phraise “Had I not better known..” Showing the belief that was prevalent during the time that sharing the Bible truths was both sacred and being a part of the beliefs necessary to fulfillment.
Nice observations. The opening stanzas demonstrate repeatedly the Puritan reflex, where nature is used both to affirm God’s existence and to assert his awe-inspiring majesty, superiority, and absolute sovereignty. An attendant theme is the smallness and insignificance of humanity; ie, “no earthly mould [or form]” can approach the sun in terms of either distance or stature (in paragraph 8 below). It is interesting to note how full of praise for nature the poet is in the opening stanzas, in contrast with her attention to original sin and the depravity and weakness of human beings in later stanzas. Yet the poem will go on to explain that God’s elect will in fact outlast the world, and so should not treat the world as their abode and destination, but should renounce earthly hopes and instead focus on the afterlife.
This goes back (in my opinion) to our class discussion about the election. It also makes me think about being in the state of grace and performing the works in hopes to be elected and to stand beside God in the afterlife. I like how Jessica pointed out the puritan belief of being deserving of such wonders and beauty, better yet living to a standard that would allow the narrator to be deserving of these gifts of beauty around her.
I really enjoy Bradstreet’s metaphor here of the mariner upon the sea navigating “this world of pleasure”. Not only does she craft her metaphor quite beautifully, the Puritan message of primal purity is also highlighted in her message. The very real natural imagery of the mariner fighting the stormy seas feels appropriate when compared to the endless “sea” of spiritual temptations that are seemingly so abundant in the New World.
She seems to be saying that when things are going well and you have achieved the earthly desires of honor, wealth, or safety it is a deceiving sense of security. In truth it is during the storm, or hardships, when all those pleasantries are stripped away that it can be realized that “only above is found all with security”.
When I first read this stanza, I was reminded of the commandment that forbids making false idols, though this probably wasn’t Bradstreet’s intent. The speaker in the poem is awed by how beautiful and strong and long-lived nature is in comparison to humans. I took her asking if she should praise nature instead as almost a nod to those who turn away from God to worship something that, in their eyes, is better than God or what God claims to be important. The speaker then casts away the idea at the end of the stanza, choosing to believe that man is more “noble” than other creatures because man will get to live on in Heaven with Him, while nature will die and fade away completely.
Data visualization for Bradstreet’s Poems
This stanza stuck out to me because of what we had talked about in a previous session of class. The tale of how all was perfect in the paradise that was the garden of Eden, but how Adam’s actions led to the demise of Paradise for the human race. The transition from an easy life to being forced to “get his bread with pain and sweat of face” through hard labor. I really liked it because in a few lines it told a story we all know and it did it in a smooth, chronological, and effective story telling way.
I find interesting but not surprising how she decides to end the poem.
She reflects on how the sinful creatures that “joys not in hope of an eternal morrow” (30) and “Their names without a Record are forgot, Their parts, their ports, their pomp’s all laid in th’ dust. According to Bradstreet’s faith this is the dismal outcome of every soul that decides a different path for his or her life. On the other hand, she seems to be saying that God has a total different plan for the faithful puritan society. “But he whose name is graved in the white stone shall last and shine when all these are gone.” What I got from these lines is the expression of the Puritan lifestyle, which is to live and enjoy the beautiful creation like if you were going to live forever in this earth without ever forgetting that you don’t belong in it. Instead God has a much more satisfying place on eternity but only the few chosen ones are going to divinely partake of the hard to achieve glorious place.
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I really liked this poem. It really shows what a woman feels like when she loses a child or grandchild. Especially a young child. The name of this poem tells that the child was only a year and a half old. However, she also makes it clear that it is God’s hand that guides fate and nature. She isn’t blaming God, but make it clear to her readers that it was God’s decision to take her grandchild.
This poem is beautifully written and, in my opinion, acts as a very vivid example of worldliness that Dr. Olsen-Smith discussed last week. It’s interesting that the narrator is not part of the discussion but merely listening to it and even though we can assume the narrator is the author, we see a deliberate focus and preference for the argument of Spirit rather than Flesh. Bradstreet doesn’t resort to the same sort of name calling and general feeling of derision that we’ve already encountered in some of the other authors. However, she is very assertive in her phrasing and we understand that she definitely believes in the idea of being in the world but not of the world.
Looking at now day society this paragraph can talk about how a mother wishes she could give her still bloody weeping newborn baby a better life if she had made better decisions in her life and wasn’t involved or used to be involved with a man who is/was nothing but lies. She fears and thinks about his future as any good mother does, hoping for the best.
“The Flesh and the Spirit” personifies the Puritan belief that the soul and the afterlife are more important and should be of more concern than the material life on earth. The spirit’s point of view takes up the majority of the poem and is clearly the “sister” that Bradstreet believes to be true. Flesh argues that people should “Take thy fill, / Earth hath enough of what you will.” To which Spirit replies that Flesh engages in sin when instead she should be focused on God and the everlasting life that comes after their time on earth. Spirit claims that she is from the father above while Flesh is from Adam; thus, the soul is of God, while the flesh is from Adam and associated with sin. In this poem, Bradstreet lays out many examples of the Puritan belief that people are in the world but not of the world, and, because of this, they should be focused on and striving for the life they will have with God when the soul is no longer tied to the body on earth.
I think this stanza is interesting because it reminds me of the idea talked about last week that these people believed they were not of this world but merely passing through. The first few lines of this stanza had me a bit confused because she seemed to be “praising the heavens, the trees, the earth”. Bradstreet seems to be breaking a rule of her religion, as Kiah states above, but I think the reason this is fine is that she is merely contemplating the possibility of doing so. Later on in this passage Bradstreet seems to shift her opinion on these physical (or earthly I suppose) elements that she contemplates praising. She says, “Nay, they shall darken, parish, fade and dye, / And when unmade, so ever shall they lye”. This says a lot because she is stating that these lovely things will soon be no more. She then goes on to write, “But man was made for endless immortality”. She compares these earthly pleasures to mankind, or at least the ones who are going to heaven after death. She states that these earthly things are not immortal, but this group of people are, as they are just passing through to heaven.
This section of the poem appears as if Spirit is simply boasting to her sister, Flesh, that she will triumph over Flesh’s materialistic lifestyle with a life of abstaining from earthly indulgences. I would further suggest that Spirit is in conflict with herself, that the materialism of flesh is tempting, and to overcome the temptation, she claims that she is the victor of the two, providing some consolation in her abstinence, as it is for the sake of a win in a invented competition. Certainly, Spirit uses the rewards of heaven to provide purpose for her rejecting gold and expensive clothing, but her argument does not seem anchored in just piety for the sake of heaven, rather, she may be finding reconciliation in piety through a sisterly competition. The poem in its entirety seems as if it argues that colonizers must do whatever it takes to live of the world with eternal heaven as the goal, even if it means constructing a competition. This may not have been Bradstreet’s goal, but I would argue that the language and plot insinuates an ends to a means agenda.
Poetry always has meanings behind the meanings and for this section of the poem it is backed by rich detail that adds so much to the meaning behind it. Overall, the details here show signs of autumn/fall in a seasonal sense but gives some details that remind on of a living being such as “trees all richly clad, yet void of pride.” This clue in of pride could be relating to Phoebus but most likely are bringing the trees to life with some personification. They were richly clad trees but they knew they need not be prideful.
I found this stanza in Contemplations to be a place where Bradstreet takes the liberty of inserting a lot of doctrine and theological concepts. The fact that Adam, now a fallen creature, is reminiscing about Paradise and obviously longs to return to it to no avail, acts as an example to Puritans to continually be longing and looking forward to future paradise in the afterlife. Here we see the subtle emphasis of the Puritanical idea of ‘being in the world yet not of it’.
Additionally, the last four lines of this stanza serve to offer yet another example of the doctrine of Total Depravity – that humankind is wholly and utterly evil with not a shred of good in him. Through vivid imagery, (“naked thrall”, “miscreant”, pain and sweat”) Bradstreet paints a bleak and despairing picture of humankind as a whole (as I think she does quite regularly), describing it as a “backsliding Race”. I think that this kind of imagery and parallelism is aimed at being directly applicable to the conflict between ‘worldliness’ and the Puritanical worldview that was happening around this time.
Melissa you make some great points. I definitely see how the Puritans and Christianity play a role in this poem. Bradstreet uses their role in her life to express it in her writing.
About your second idea, I believe there was no role of Greek mythology during this time. A belief in any other God would end you in damnation. IT was not welcome to follow or believe in anything other than your one God. So, OI agree that it was contradictory for their to be another poem from this time with Greek Mythology references in it.
What a terrible and beautiful outcome from Bradstreet’s house burning down. I say beautiful because the loss of this house served as a metaphor for Bradstreet’s piety without vanity. The loss of her house seemed to be a true test of her faith from her own perspective, and her language seems to prove she remains faithful. This poem made the concept of letting go of worldliness clear to me. “Adieu, Adieu, all’s vanity,” sums up this poem for me and brought to light what I gather Bradstreet is promoting. There are also themes of God’s will in this poem. Here we can see that God gives and takes and that is his will to do so, “Yet by His gift is made I thine own”. Furthermore, this poem summarizes the concept of being in the world, but not of the world, as house is not her eternal home, it is merely a place where she resides on Earth and her belief in God makes the tangible house only a temporary vessel until the afterlife.
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January 24, 2018 at 7:32 pm
See in context
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April 30, 2018 at 10:35 pm
In Charles Brockden Brown’s article, “The Difference between History and Romance” he writes about the novel, Wieland, and the relationship that the novel has between history and romance. He explains how history and romance are intertwined and how imperfections of man are part of our future, present, and past. In this paragraph, Clara is overtaken by her senses of this man, “I count among the most extraordinary incidents of my life”. Clara is an irrational character taken over by romantic ideas. Her history and her future are based on her emotional decisions. There is no separation between the two. Brockden Brown writes, “when busy in assigning motives to actions, are not historians but romancers.” Which relates directly to what is happening to Clara in this passage. When talking about history, it is the “noting and recording of the actions of men” which I think is very important because mankind is often if not always driven by passion and emotion. This also plays well with the strong theme of passion and emotion that is current throughout Wieland and all the characters.
Barnard, Philip, and Stephen Shapiro, editors. “The Difference Between History and Romance.” Wieland or the Transformation, with Related Texts, by Charles Brockden Brown, Hackett Publishing Company, Inc., 2009, pp. 195–198.
April 27, 2018 at 11:10 pm
This passage is very focused on individualism, Franklin seems to be looking at the better things in his life instead of focusing on the negative. He doesn’t dwell on the idea that he wish he lived life without committing fault instead he touches on it and shifts into how he’s basically glad with how he’s lived life. In “Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography and the Education of America.” Steven Forde presents the idea that Franklin Autobiography should be used as a model of developing good character and morals. Franklin states, “conceived the bold and arduous project of arriving at moral perfection”, but soon realizes that he had, “undertaken a task of more difficulty than he had imagined.” Forde believes, “each of the loopholes… is deliberate”. The loopholes represent another idea, that being that when striving for greater morality the individual must also take all aspects of life in consideration and be reasonable. Forbes introduces another idea, “If Franklin had viewed virtue more strictly, he might have been forced to give up on it”.
Forde, Steven. “Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography and the Education of America.” The American Political Science Review, vol. 86, no. 2, 1992, pp. 357–368. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/1964225.
April 27, 2018 at 4:40 pm
In her article “What’s Wrong With Charlotte Temple” Marion Rust addresses Charlotte’s passions as well as her inability to make decisions and relates it to her overall fall from her position in society. Rust uses this paragraph as an example of Charlotte’s indecisiveness. Here it is exemplified that Charlotte can’t even make a simple decision on her own. She has to reach out to her mentor in order to decide what to even do with something as simple as a written letter. Rust catapults off this point by claiming that Charlotte’s future will continue to be unguided and spiral downward farther than she already has. Rust bases this claim on the idea that Charlotte will not be able to support herself because she is always looking to some one outside herself to guide her through obstacles.
Rust, Marion. “What’s Wrong with ‘Charlotte Temple?”.” The William and Mary Quarterly, vol. 60, no. 1, 2003, pp. 99–118. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/3491497.
April 27, 2018 at 4:16 pm
Andrew Scheiber’s article “The Arm Lifted against Me”: Love, Terror and the Construction of Gender in “Wieland” explores Clara’s gendered role in Charles Brockden Brown’s Wieland. Scheiber points to patterns of Clara’s marginalization and enclosure throughout the story, specifically in relation to her role in the context of the familial structure of the story’s plot. Scheiber explains that, “though the Age of Reason invites her to identify herself with the life of the mind, Clara is barred by her womanhood from fully achieving such an identification, since the gender ideology of the times defines the intellect as secondary rather than primary, to the essence of “feminine” nature” (Schieber 178) which is an interesting perspective considering the emphasis on reason and intellect throughout the story, and the fact that Clara is the primary protagonist of the story. Schieber claims that when Clara questions the audience, “was I not likewise transformed from rational and human into a creature of nameless and fearful attributes” (Brown 137) that she is exposing her “self-condemnation” that is born out of the gendered system that relates “rational” and “human” on the masculine side of gender axis, and the negation of those qualities to the feminine side of the axis.
Brown, Charles Brockden, Philip Barnard, and Stephen Shapiro. Wieland ; or the Transformation. An American Tale with Related Texts. Indianapolis: Hackett Pub., 2009. Print.
Scheiber, Andrew J. “‘The Arm Lifted against Me’: Love, Terror, and the Construction of Gender in ‘Wieland.’” Early American Literature, vol. 26, no. 2, 1991, pp. 173–194.
April 27, 2018 at 4:07 pm
In his article, entitled ‘Rip Van Winkle and the Generational Divide in American Culture’, scholar Robert A. Ferguson examines the character of Rip Van Winkle in depth and identifies some of the key flaws that keep this iconic figure of early American Folklore in conversation to this day. One of the flaws identified in Ferguson’s article is the issue of drink, which is brought up in the selected paragraph. Ferguson argues that Rip’s problems with being a “naturally thirsty soul” can be attributed to and explain his lack of success in life: “Habitual drinking keeps him from the steady application that every good farm requires” (533). This explanation of Rip’s tendency to ‘bum around’ aligns to the events of the story, as well as illuminating a reason why he continues to be a influential character in American literature. According to Ferguson, “We value Rip most of all because we find something of our own foibles in him, not because we worry about drink or because we fear an encounter with Heinrich Hudson when we enter the Kaatskill Mountains. Rip’s faults…are our own bad habits carried to extremes. Irving keeps to the lighter side of these extremes” (533-534). Through the relatable aspects and complexities of Rip’s character, readers throughout the years are enabled, through Irving’s lighthearted storytelling, to return to this original American folktale with as timeless a perspective as the readers who scanned the first print-warmed lines of this work.
Ferguson, Robert A. “Rip Van Winkle and the Generational Divide in American Culture.” Early American Literature, vol. 40, no. 3, 2005, pp. 529–544. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/25057421.
April 27, 2018 at 3:46 pm
In “Charlotte Temple and the End of Epistolarity” by Blythe Forcey, it is said that the motherly affection of the narrator is what really makes this story relatable. I found this article to be interesting because I think that it very true. I think the way that the narrator acts in a motherly way really helps the story along. Forcey states, “Early American readers were able, as they read this novel, to live through a nightmare of dislocation, alienation, and abandonment that mapped their worst fears. But, guided by the careful and caring narrative of Mrs. Rowson, they emerged safe and unscathed, with all troubling ambiguities and terrors temporarily put to rest” (227-228). I think this is a very important quote because it makes you, as the reader, realize just how good of an author Susana Rowson truly was. To be able to make her readers feel safe even during a scary time, all due to the way this story is narrated. Forcey also states, “The motherly character of Rowson’s narrative voice is evident from her first addresses to the reader… Thus she offers, quite explicitly, to stand in for those ‘natural friends’ that the reader might have lost and to protect them from the horrors of the world” (228). I think this is a very important statement as well. Forcey makes it clear that even from the very first sentence of this story, Susana Rowson manages to take our hand and make us feel safe.
Forcey, Blythe. “Charlotte Temple and the End of Epistolarity.” American Literature, vol. 63, no. 2, 1991, pp. 225–241. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/2927163.
April 27, 2018 at 3:45 pm
I also really loved this line. The Earth is the beginning and the end of the cycle of life, and that gets so overlooked in our day to day struggles. Nature and death are like you said, both important parts of the cycle of life. The connection being made in these two lines applies to most of what we have studied through the semester in this class. Even the puritans had themes of nature as a part of their beliefs. Nature and death are the two things that connect humanity because no human on Earth can avoid either one of these things. We will all die and become a part of nature once more, because that is how we began the cycle.
April 27, 2018 at 3:12 pm
Within this passage, we witness the first instance of Charlotte beginning to distrust her own instincts. While at the party she was led to believe would be fun and entertaining, she realizes that being obedient and staying home would have been better than sneaking out with La Rue. As the story progresses we see Charlotte trust those instincts less and, according to Marion Rust’s article “What’s Wrong with ‘Charlotte Temple'”, her behavior becomes increasingly described as some “form of collapse, in which her future direction is determined by nothing more deliberate than her center of gravity.” This continual falling down that Charlotte experiences effectively acts to demonstrate Rowson’s commentary on the unreliability of young women’s own moral character and how they are insufficiently able to stand up to the force of external moral corruption.
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Rust, Marion. “What’s Wrong with ‘Charlotte Temple?”.” The William and Mary Quarterly, vol. 60, no. 1, 2003, pp. 99–118.
April 27, 2018 at 2:25 pm
Throughout her essay, “Olaudah Equiano, Written by Himself”, Cath N. Davidson expresses the aspects which make the text so significant. She explains the strength of emotion that is brought because the narrative is told from Equiano himself. She also expresses that the non-traditional storytelling is what makes it interesting and evokes emotion throughout. Davidson ultimately points out that, “Many aspects of the text make it significant, but especially impressive is it expansive reach” (19). His story is told in many parts of the world and allows readers to feel this narrative from place to place based on his narrating abilities. For example, Equiano himself states “in the preceding chapter I have set before the reader a few of those many instances of oppression, extortion, and cruelty, which I have been a witness to in the West Indies”. As readers have been taken from place to place Equiano stops to show the places he’s been and the things he’s seen. Davidson also points out the emotion-evoking tones and voice used by Equiano. Addressing the many aspects of the text Davidson writes, The text combines (in unequal parts) slave narrative, sea yarn, military adventure, ethnographic reportage, historical fiction, travelogue, picaresque saga, sentimental novel, allegory, tall tale, pastoral origins myth, gothic romance, conversion tale, and abolitionist tract, with different features coming to the fore at different times, and the mood vacillating accordingly” (20). His slave trade journey was terrible and cruel; as readers see Equiano journey from place to place they empathize with him more and begin to realize the terrible conditions in which he was under. The narrative of Equiano become more and more effective for readers because of the places Equiano takes us and the voice he uses to evoke that emotion out of readers.
Davidson, Cathy N. “Olaudah Equiano, Written by Himself.” NOVEL: A Forum on Fiction, vol. 40, no. 1/2, 2006, pp. 18–51. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/40267683.
April 27, 2018 at 1:26 pm
According to William Pencak, author of “Benjamin Franklin’s Biography, Cotton Mather, and a Puritan God,” in this paragraph, Franklin is defending the stakes on which he wrote his autobiography, as well as defending his own morality. Franklin was very dedicated to his moral standing with himself and God and went through extreme measures to ensure that he would end up on the ‘right’ side of things. This particular passage is about the ‘justification of his book’ which ‘illustrates an important philosophical point: the need for ideal principles, realized in practice, to subdue “Natural Inclination,” as well as the bad effects of, “Custom and Company” (Pencak 8). The ‘artifice’ that Franklin describes represents the civilization of people that he is surrounded by and he believes that they should be informed of his knowledge, life, and commitment to God. Franklin didn’t believe that being religious meant attending church, donating to pastors, or things alike. It was about believing in God, Praying honestly, and being virtuous. Throughout this autobiography, Franklin defends and justifies his beliefs and morality.
Pencak, William. “BENJAMIN FRANKLIN’S AUTOBIOGRAPHY, COTTON MATHER, AND A PURITAN GOD.” Pennsylvania History: A Journal of Mid-Atlantic Studies, vol. 53, no. 1, 1986, pp. 1–25. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/27773087.
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