WILLIAM BLAKE: GOLDEN STRING

Blake seeks to provide the Golden String which can lead us through the labyrinth of our experience or his own poetry.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

RAM HORN'D

First posted on July 17, 2011

Ram Horn'd with Gold

A Blake Hypertext Commentary

The Spiritual Autobiography of William Blake

Edited by Larry Clayton

"Blake sent this poem to the one faithful Christian he knew who had befriended and loved him. The circumstances leave no doubt as to the identity of the One Man. The poem poetically expresses Blake's faith as it relates to God, Man and the relationship between the two. It expresses what the Christian faith has to say about the relationship as well as it can be expressed verbally. It also expresses with vivid eloquence the child like nature of the entrance to the kingdom of God. Blake here celebrates and confesses it. To interpret Blake's experience we could use any number of hackneyed phrases representing the various dialects of the language of Zion; suffice it to say that for most of them as for Blake this is the main event, the center of the Moment of Grace. At this point Jesus became and forever afterward remained the One and the ever present Reality which Blake had formerly known as the Infinite or Eternal. For Blake Jesus was a Man, the Reality of Life, and most ultimately the All. In all three instances Blake strictly followed Johnine and Pauline strains of the New Testament."

Letters, 16, Oct 1800, (E 712)  
"To my Friend Butts I write
     My first Vision of Light
     On the yellow sands sitting
     The Sun was Emitting
     His Glorious beams
     From Heavens high Streams
     Over Sea over Land
     My Eyes did Expand
     Into regions of air
     Away from all Care
     Into regions of fire
     Remote from Desire
     The Light of the Morning
     Heavens Mountains adorning
     In particles bright
     The jewels of Light
     Distinct shone & clear--
     Amazd & in fear
     I each particle gazed
     Astonishd Amazed
     For each was a Man
     Human formd.  Swift I ran
     For they beckond to me
     Remote by the Sea
     Saying.  Each grain of Sand
     Every Stone on the Land
     Each rock & each hill
     Each fountain & rill
     Each herb & each tree
     Mountain hill Earth & Sea
     Cloud Meteor & Star
     Are Men Seen Afar
     I stood in the Streams
     Of Heavens bright beams
     And Saw Felpham sweet
     Beneath my bright feet
     In soft Female charms
     And in her fair arms
     My Shadow I knew
     And my wifes shadow too
     And My Sister & Friend.
     We like Infants descend
     In our Shadows on Earth
     Like a weak mortal birth
     My Eyes more & more
     Like a Sea without shore
     Continue Expanding
     The Heavens commanding
     Till the jewels of Light
     Heavenly Men beaming bright
     Appeard as One Man
     Who Complacent began
     My limbs to infold
     In his beams of bright gold
     Like dross purgd away
     All my mire & my clay
     Soft consumd in delight
     In his bosom sun bright
     I remaind.  Soft he smild
     And I heard his voice Mild
     Saying This is My Fold
     O thou Ram hornd with gold
     Who awakest from sleep
     On the sides of the Deep
     On the Mountains around
     The roarings resound
     Of the lion & wolf
     The loud sea & deep gulf
     These are guards of My Fold
     O thou Ram hornd with gold
     And the voice faded mild
     I remaind as a Child
     All I ever had known
     Before me bright Shone
     I saw you & your wife
     By the fountains of Life
     Such the Vision to me
     Appeard on the Sea"
 
Image from:
Wikipedia Commons
America a Prophecy
Plate 9 

Another post: WHY RAM HORN'D?

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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

I Haste Away

Before Larry left this mortal life in December 2016 he was fond of repeating a few simple lines from Blake which elucidated the attitude which was appropriate for us to have toward the approach of death in this world:
Gates of Paradise, Keys, (E 268)
"13   But when once I did descry 
     The Immortal Man that cannot Die
14   Thro evening shades I haste away 
     To close the Labours of my Day
15   The Door of Death I open found                             
     And the Worm Weaving in the Ground
16   Thou'rt my Mother from the Womb 
     Wife, Sister, Daughter to the Tomb 
     Weaving to Dreams the Sexual strife
     And weeping over the Web of Life"  

He published this in a post in March of 2015. 
The term, Death Eternal, means something far different from the conventional intonation. To Blake it meant captivity to the Material for someone completely oblivious to the realm of Spirit.

Wikimedia Commons
Jerusalem    
Frontispiece 

The word die is carefully avoided by most of us; when a loved one dies, we say he/she passed away. The question is - what dies? The Roman Empire died; the British Empire died? But those were not people per se; they were states, conglomerates of materiality. So death is relative - from what to what? Ellie asked a workmate if he considered himself a body or a spirit; "a body", he said; "a spirit", she said.So what dies? A body or a spirit or both? (In mortal life our bodies are said to actually die (cell by cell) and be renewed every 7 years.)
 
So at the end of mortal life what dies? the body of course, the garment that we acquired when we descended into the Sea of Time and Space and the 'daughters of Enitharmon' began to cut and splice it.


When Odysseus (or Luvah) threw the garment back to the sea goddess, he was on his way back to Eternity, where we all go sooner or later.


In the French Quarter in N.O. a black friend told me about her dead son; he had had an incurable and painful disease; he came to her and asked her permission to die, which she of course granted. In one of Charles Williams' delightful metaphysical thrillers two characters are especially memorable: a saintly lady fully in tune with the life of the Spirit, and a man who generations before had been hanged; his spirit still hung around that locale, which happened to be outside her window. She met him there and gave him permission to depart in peace.

In the play called William Blake Meets Thomas Paine we witness a conversation that Will Blake had with his brother Robert (long deceased), and we are led to believe that this was commonplace in Blake's life.


"Every Death is an improvement in the State of the Departed." (Letters, 74 - to Linnell; Erdman 774)
 
By Death Eternal Blake implied descent into mortal life.
By Life Eternal he meant return to our Eternal Origin.
But what, we ask, have you and I learned here in our mortal life?
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Thursday, October 12, 2017

MORTAL FADES

National Gallery
Death of Saint Joseph
1803 for Thomas Butts
John 6
[39] And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.
[40] And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.
[41] The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven.
[42] And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? how is it then that he saith, I came down from heaven?
[43] Jesus therefore answered and said unto them, Murmur not among yourselves.
[44] No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.

 
Luke 4
[17] And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written,
[18] The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,
[19] To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.
[20] And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him.
[21] And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.
[22] And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph's son?

 
Joseph lies dying supported by Mary and attended by Jesus. There is no account of this scene in the Bible. Jesus was known in his community as a son of Joseph although the gospels attest that he was conceived by the Holy Spirit. On his deathbed Blake pictures Joseph as honored and beloved. In the sky above him is a rainbow comprised of the heads and wings of angels. Light radiates from the family group as Joseph prepares for death with a prayer.

Joseph anticipates the departure from his body of his Eternal Spirit.

Job 1
[21] And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.
 

Four Zoas, Night IX, Page 113 [109], (E 384) 
"When the man gently fades away in his immortality
When the mortal disappears in improved knowledge cast away 
The former things so shall the Mortal gently fade away 
And so become invisible to those who still remain"
Vision of Last Judgment, (E 555)
"[PAGE 69] This world of Imagination is the World of
Eternity it is the Divine bosom into which we shall all go after
the death of the Vegetated body   This World  is
Infinite & Eternal whereas the world of Generation or Vegetation
is Finite & [for a small moment] Temporal    There Exist
in that Eternal World the Permanent Realities of Every Thing
which we see are reflected in this Vegetable Glass of Nature
     All Things are comprehended in their Eternal Forms in the
Divine [P 70] body of the Saviour the True Vine of Eternity
The Human Imagination who appeard to Me as Coming to Judgment.
among his Saints & throwing off the Temporal that the Eternal
might be Establishd."
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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

MY MORTAL PART

artfund.org Death of the Virgin
The pair of watercolors which Blake painted for Butts depicting the deaths of the parents of Jesus, like all of Blake's images, are meant to be read symbolically. Joseph was an earthly human, his death was the death of a natural man. When his body died his spirit was released to rejoin the Communion of Saints who cast off the Temporal to be Established in the Eternal.

The mother of Jesus was a somewhat different case. The physical nature of the Incarnate Christ had come to Jesus through her. Blake had Jesus address her as 'mother of my mortal part.' Jesus predeceased his mother when he was crucified on Golgotha. In Blake's image Death of the Virgin, Jesus stands with her. No earthly beings attend her; four angels minister at the head and feet to the body in repose.
 

Perhaps Blake's implication is that Mary's Natural Body had already been raised as her Spiritual Body: by becoming the mother of the mortal part of Christ her Spiritual Body was expressed in a unique way. In Blake's Milton he used the virgin Ololon as a symbol of the material, feminine part of man's nature which became integrated in the Unified, Redeemed Body of the complete Man.

Matthew 1
[18] Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.
[19] Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.
[20] But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.
[21] And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.
[22] Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,
[23] Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

Isaiah 7
[14] Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.


John 2 
[1] And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: 
[2] And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. 
[3] And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. 
[4] Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come.
Songs of Innocence & of Experience, Song 52, (E 30)
"To Tirzah             

Whate'er is Born of Mortal Birth,
Must be consumed with the Earth
To rise from Generation free;
Then what have I to do with thee?

The Sexes sprung from Shame & Pride
Blow'd in the morn: in evening died
But Mercy changd Death into Sleep;
The Sexes rose to work & weep.

Thou Mother of my Mortal part.
With cruelty didst mould my Heart. 
And with false self-decieving tears,
Didst bind my Nostrils Eyes & Ears.

Didst close my Tongue in senseless clay
And me to Mortal Life betray:
The Death of Jesus set me free, 
Then what have I to do with thee?

[text on illustration:] It is Raised a Spiritual Body"
 
Four Zoas, Night VIII, PAGE 104 (SECOND PORTION), (E 377)
"He stood in fair Jerusalem to awake up into Eden
The fallen Man but first to Give his vegetated body    
To be cut off & separated that the Spiritual body may be Reveald"
 
Annotations to Berkley's Siris, (E 664)
"The Natural Body is an Obstruction to the Soul or Spiritual Body" 
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Monday, October 2, 2017

CAIN FLEEING

Wikimedia Commons
Cain Fleeing from the Wrath of God
Gen.4
[1] And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD.
[2] And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.
[3] And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD.
[4] And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering:
[5] But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.
[6] And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen?
[7] If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.
[8] And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.
[9] And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother's keeper?
[10] And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground.
[11] And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother's blood from thy hand;
[12] When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth.
[13] And Cain said unto the LORD, My punishment is greater than I can bear.
[14] Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me.
 
Cain and Abel fit into the categories of wrath and pity, or of the Reprobate and the Redeemed, of the rebel and the conformist. Blake represented them as Rintrah and Palamabron. Rintrah was perpetually outside of 'acceptable' behavior, that is the conventions of society. Palamabron was too timid to break out of the patterns expected of him.
 
The contentions between the two brothers were stirred up by the third brother Satan who was given leave to change the relationships and duties within the family structure.

Blake presented characters and situations for us to consider as external facts, but it is up to us to discern the inner realities. The account of Cain and Abel, too, is presented as a story about people who lived when civilization was beginning. But they also represent internal realities which are active within our psyches. We have within ourselves Cain and Abel, Rintrah and Palamabron. Within us too are the Lord and Satan contending over our perceptions and our behaviors.
Europe, Plate 8, (E 61)
"Arise O Rintrah eldest born: second to none but Orc:
O lion Rintrah raise thy fury from thy forests black:
Bring Palamabron horned priest, skipping upon the mountains:
And silent Elynittria the silver bowed queen:
Rintrah where hast thou hid thy bride!                           
Weeps she in desart shades?
Alas my Rintrah! bring the lovely jealous Ocalythron.

Arise my son! bring all thy brethren O thou king of fire.
Prince of the sun I see thee with thy innumerable race:
Thick as the summer stars:                                       
But each ramping his golden mane shakes,
And thine eyes rejoice because of strength O Rintrah furious king." 
Milton, Plate 7, (E 99)
"The first, The Elect from before the foundation of the World:  
The second, The Redeem'd. The Third, The Reprobate & form'd
To destruction from the mothers womb: follow with me my plow!  

Of the first class was Satan: with incomparable mildness;
His primitive tyrannical attempts on Los: with most endearing love    
He soft intreated Los to give to him Palamabrons station;
For Palamabron returnd with labour wearied every evening
Palamabron oft refus'd; and as often Satan offer'd
His service till by repeated offers and repeated intreaties
Los gave to him the Harrow of the Almighty; alas blamable      
Palamabron. fear'd to be angry lest Satan should accuse him of
Ingratitude, & Los believe the accusation thro Satans extreme
Mildness. Satan labour'd all day. it was a thousand years
In the evening returning terrified overlabourd & astonish'd
Embrac'd soft with a brothers tears Palamabron, who also wept  

Mark well my words! they are of your eternal salvation

Next morning Palamabron rose: the horses of the Harrow
Were maddend with tormenting fury, & the servants of the Harrow
The Gnomes, accus'd Satan, with indignation fury and fire.
Then Palamabron reddening like the Moon in an eclipse,        
Spoke saying, You know Satans mildness and his self-imposition,
Seeming a brother, being a tyrant, even thinking himself a brother
While he is murdering the just; prophetic I behold

His future course thro' darkness and despair to eternal death
But we must not be tyrants also! he hath assum'd my place      
For one whole day, under pretence of pity and love to me:
My horses hath he maddend! and my fellow servants injur'd:
How should he[,] he[,] know the duties of another? O foolish forbearance
Would I had told Los, all my heart! but patience O my friends.
All may be well: silent remain, while I call Los and Satan." 
Milton, Plate 8, (E 101)
"Mean while wept Satan before Los, accusing Palamabron;
Himself exculpating with mildest speech. for himself believ'd
That he had not opress'd nor injur'd the refractory servants." 
MIlton, Plate 14 [15], (E 108)
"I in my Selfhood am that Satan: I am that Evil One!
He is my Spectre! in my obedience to loose him from my Hells
To claim the Hells, my Furnaces, I go to Eternal Death."
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Saturday, September 30, 2017

REST & LABOR

Yale Center for British Art
Jerusalem 
Plate 37, Detail 
Rest and Labor are contraries. They perform different but necessary roles in the scheme of things. Although it might be said that rest follows labor because energy has been depleted by exertion, rest also precedes labor as a means of preparation. If rest from physical activity allows mental activity to take place, the rest is the most important labor which can be performed. Rest and Labor may comprise a cycle in which they perform alternatively, however they may take place simultaneously.  

Rest is an opportunity for replenishment and renewal. For Blake rest is active engagement of the Imagination in the arts and sciences which rejuvenate the spirit.

When Blake used the phrase 'Rest before Labor' at the beginning of the Four Zoas he thought of the preparation which preceded his first attempt to write an epic poem. He thought of the effort which would go into the composition on such a large theme. He thought of the challenge which his readers would face in digesting such a quantity of ideas. He thought of the rewards for himself and his reader for engaging in the mental battles required. And if the writing and reading were the labor required, they would introduce another period of productive rest when ideas would germinate before the labors continued. 

On Plate 37 of Jerusalem Albion's emanation Jerusalem sleeps in perfect rest as the struggle around her is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (Ephesians 6:12) 

Four Zoas, Night I, Page 1, (E 300)
"                 THE FOUR ZOAS

          The torments of Love & Jealousy in 
                The Death and Judgement
               of Albion the Ancient Man

                 by William Blake 1797
PAGE 2
                 Rest before Labour
PAGE 3
<4 lines of Greek text; Ephesians 6: 12>

<[For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but
against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the
darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high
places. (King James version)]>"  

Four Zoas, Night I, Page 21 [19], (312)
"The Family Divine drew up the Universal tent
Above High Snowdon & closd the Messengers in clouds around  
Till the time of the End. Then they Elected Seven. called the Seven
Eyes of God & the Seven lamps of the Almighty                    
The Seven are one within the other the Seventh is named Jesus

The Lamb of God blessed for ever & he followd the Man
Who wanderd in mount Ephraim seeking a Sepulcher
His inward eyes closing from the Divine vision & all
His children wandering outside from his bosom fleeing away      t
 
PAGE 22 [20]                     
The Daughters of Beulah beheld the Emanation they pitied
They wept before the Inner gates of Enitharmons bosom
And of her fine wrought brain & of her bowels within her loins
Three gates within Glorious & bright open into Beulah 
From Enitharmons inward parts but the bright female terror       
Refusd to open the bright gates she closd and barrd them fast
Lest Los should enter into Beulah thro her beautiful gates

The Emanation stood before the Gates of Enitharmon 
Weeping. the Daughters of Beulah silent in the Porches
Spread her a couch unknown to Enitharmon here reposd             
Jerusalem in slumbers soft lulld into silent rest
Terrific ragd the Eternal Wheels of intellect terrific ragd
The living creatures of the wheels in the Wars of Eternal life
But perverse rolld the wheels of Urizen & Luvah back reversd
Downwards & outwards consuming in the wars of Eternal Death 

PAGE 21 [19]
                 End of The First Night"
Genesis 2
[1] Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.
[2] And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.
[3] And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.


Hebrews 4
[8] For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day.
[9] There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.
[10] For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.
[11] Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.
[12] For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
[13] Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.
[14] Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.
[15] For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
[16] Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

Friday, September 29, 2017

APOCALYPSE

Wikimedia Commons Illustrations to Young's Night Thoughts
The Ninth and final night of the Four Zoas begins in dramatic fashion. Los and Enitharmon became disillusioned with building Golgonooza which was to be the evidence of the Divine Vision in time and space. Because the Crucified body appeared to be present to their natural eyes, they failed to discern Jesus standing beside them. Fearing that the Spirit continued not when the body died, Los began the process of bringing the material world to a conclusion by tearing down the sun and moon. The universe cracked apart and Los and Enitharmon - Time and Space - lost their substance. Thus the apocalypse began, matter was terminated and the process of reassembling the Infinite, Eternal, Ethereal commenced.
Four Zoas, Night IX, Page 117, (E 386)
          "Night the Ninth
               Being
          The Last Judgment

And Los & Enitharmon builded Jerusalem weeping  
Over the Sepulcher & over the Crucified body
Which to their Phantom Eyes appear'd still in the Sepulcher
But Jesus stood beside them in the Spirit Separating
Their Spirit from their body. Terrified at Non Existence 
For such they deemd the death of the body. Los his vegetable hands
Outstretchd his right hand branching out in fibrous Strength
Siezd the Sun. His left hand like dark roots coverd the Moon
And tore them down cracking the heavens across from immense to immense
Then fell the fires of Eternity with loud & shrill 
Sound of Loud Trumpet thundering along from heaven to heaven
A mighty sound articulate Awake ye dead & come
To judgment from the four winds Awake & Come away
Folding like scrolls of the Enormous volume of Heaven & Earth

With thunderous noise & dreadful shakings rocking to & fro 
The heavens are shaken & the Earth removed from its place
The foundations of the Eternal hills discoverd
The thrones of Kings are shaken they have lost their robes & crowns
The poor smite their opressors they awake up to the harvest
The naked warriors rush together down to the sea shore 
Trembling before the multitudes of slaves now set at liberty
They are become like wintry flocks like forests stripd of leaves
The opressed pursue like the wind there is no room for escape
The Spectre of Enitharmon let loose on the troubled deep
Waild shrill in the confusion & the Spectre of Urthona
PAGE 118 
Recievd her in the darkning South their bodies lost they stood
Trembling & weak a faint embrace a fierce desire as when
Two shadows mingle on a wall they wail & shadowy tears
Fell down & shadowy forms of joy mixd with despair & grief
Their bodies buried in the ruins of the Universe 
Mingled with the confusion. Who shall call them from the Grave"
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