Digital Passions - Issue #1 - January 29, 1999
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Passions in Poetry
- Anchor Point (our
- to WIT (Welcome,
Introduction and Thanks)
- New Features
- What Is Poetry?
- Mid Point (our second
- Statistic Never Lie
- Visitor Feedback
- I Need Your Help
- Article Request
- Poets Only (Writing Good
- Closing Point (our
- End Notes
This lovely verse by one of our favorite poets seemed
particularly appropriate as our first poem in our first issue. I
suspect I need not explain why...
|Why must I write in at this hour
while other mortals sleep?
When all is quiet I will arise
and to my computer will creep.
So full is my soul of words unspoken
of feelings I must share
I rise again in the dead of night
and begin my poets prayer,
Deliver me from pedantry
from silly limerick ways
give me depth and heart and love
and sometimes, give me praise.
(Welcome, Introduction and Thanks)
"to wit -- idiom. That is to say; namely."
Passions in Poetry has turned into something of a surprise to me, and something of a major
conundrum as well.
Less than three months ago, during the second week of November, 1998, I added a new
subdirectory called /poetry to one of my existing web sites (at rcarnell.com). It was
little more than a toy, a chance to try a few new web design techniques in a practical
setting. I posted a score of poems on the site, some of my oldest work, and invited others
to join me.
To my pleasant surprise, a few actually did. On December 5, I received our first poem,
titled "Serenade of the Sirens," from an obviously talented poet calling herself
PoetDeVine. Two days later, I found two more poems in my mailbox, "Unforgotten
Words" and "Just A Little Longer," both by Maria Byrne. On December 11,
Michael Anderson submitted his first poem to Passions, "Sleeping Beauty,"
followed the next day by "The Miracle."
Five poems in the space of a week seemed like a lot, especially when they were such
extraordinary poems. Suddenly, there was a small tickle at the back of my mind, whispering
suggestions that maybe - just maybe - there were other people out there that shared my
passion for poetry. I half-heartedly spent all of fifteen minutes one night submitting
Passion's URL to a handful of search engine.
By the time Christmas arrived, we were receiving maybe five or six poems a day, along with
about 80 visitors a day to read those wonderful works. Perhaps more importantly, I was
also receiving some wonderful email and suggestions, ways we could make the site more
useful and more extensive. One of those suggestions was to add a section for Classical
Poetry. Ten days later, bleary-eyed and thinking in meter, I had winnowed the list of
poems I just "had" to include down to 888 (seemed like a nice round number). I
redesigned our graphics menus, adding several other suggested categories, and - on New
Year's Eve - started to upload well over 1,000 pages to the web server.
It crashed, unfortunately, before I was even half complete. And it did so again, and
again, and again, and eventually it dawned on me this wasn't going to work. The
rcarnell.com web server simply could not handle the load. Coupling this with our
increasing traffic at Passions and a few other factors, I decided that perhaps Passions in
Poetry should become its own site, rather than the subdirectory of another.
The domain registration for netpoets.com is dated January 3, 1999, but it was over a week
after that before I invited our first guests - our resident poets, of course - to tour the
new site. By that time, traffic on the old site had risen to new levels and we were being
visited by about 200 people every day. On January 13, I redirected all the menu options at
the old site to point to the new one. As I write this, that was fifteen days ago. And the
chronology gets a little blurred after that, because it's been a VERY busy fifteen days.
Three days ago, I posted 33 new poems on the site. That same day we had 829 visitors,
viewing over 9,000 pages. As I write this, I have 163 poems waiting to be posted, some so
good I almost cry when I read them (out of envy, if nothing else). Our growth has been
phenomenal, to say the least, and there seems to be no end in sight.
That has been both an amazing surprise to me, and a source of continuing bewilderment. To
what do we owe our success?
Some people have suggested that the ability to send a poem (and now a greeting card) to a
friend has played some small role. That idea, and writing the code to make it work, is
probably the only small credit I might be able to take for our success. Every other single
feature added to Passions, since the day it opened its literary doors, has come as a
suggestions from either our poets or our visitors. The only possible credit I could take
for them (and you know I'll take what I can), is that I've listened to you people.
Of course, in a very real sense, the bulk of any credit has to go to our resident poets.
Without them, and the wonderful work they allow us to share, Passions could not even
exist. But as true as that certainly is, it really only begs the questions. WHY have we
been able to attract what are, without question, some of the most talented writers on the
Ask any expert, in any field, and you'll be told that success cannot be found without
focus. And that's my conundrum, because I really don't know what our "focus" has
been or should be. Are we a conclave of poets (those who write poetry) seeking an audience
and the acceptance of our peers? Or are we a diverse group of poets (those who read and
love poetry) finding a common way to explore our feelings and those of others? It may seem
an academic question to some, but the answers we reach will necessarily effect the
direction our web site takes in the future.
Perhaps, in some mystical sense, the Truth that could answer my conundrum lies at a much
deeper level. There are a great many satisfactions and rewards that come with being a part
of Passions, but none will ever match the sense of camaraderie and friendship I find every
time I log onto the 'Net these days.
Michael, Sharon, witty Nance, Rosemary, dear sweet Rachel, Jennifer, Samantha, reluctant
scared Tracey, Shelly, Heather, Jeremy - people I've *talked* to a few times or many
times, and others I've probably neglected to mention, all have become dear friends I've
learned (and am still learning) to value greatly. I've found a new source of wisdom and
insight through Passions, and have come to depend on my new-found friends' support. And
perhaps the best part for me is knowing there are almost certainly other friends out there
I haven't even met yet. But, God willing, I will.
Is it possible that at least some of our success stems from the fact that Passions is, or
is at least becoming, more than just a web site?
Often reclusive, always diverse, foolish enough to believe we have something important to
say, courageous enough to stand up and say it -- even the poets of this world need friends
to stand by them. Right?
Passions has undergone a lot of changes in the past ten years, er, I mean, weeks (well, it
*seems* longer), but that certainly doesn't mean we're ready to become stagnant just yet.
I'd like to tell you about a few of the new changes that have already happened, will
happen in the next week, or are just really good ideas that have been passed along to me.
As always, I welcome your comments (depend on them would probably be closer to the truth).
Write and let me know which ones of these you think are worth pursuing.
A "comments" field has
now been added to the Votes form. We're getting a LOT more votes than we ever have before,
across a very wide spectrum of tastes, and most of those are now coming in with some very
interesting remarks. (And, no, I'm not going to tell you who's ahead right now!) I'm not
sure how to implement it yet, but within the next few weeks I'd like to add a new section
to each poem so the poets and visitors can read what others have said about the work.
Almost from the beginning,
Passions has had two forums where visitors could post live messages, and almost from the
beginning, those have gone largely unused. The first forum, called "Feelings,"
was meant for the visitors to simply discuss the poetry, while "Critic's Corner"
was their opportunity to beat us up a little. But poetry readers don't seem to be as
vociferous as poetry writers, so the first forum has seen little use, and we must be
writing *really* great poetry because the second has never seen a single post. I'd like to
keep "Feelings" for those few who do have a voice, but I think the second forum
should be rededicated to poets. The question is, should it be for exploring great debates
(what is the meaning of True Love, for example, or the differences between free form and
metered poetry), for posting poetry we'd like help or suggestions with, or for something
else entirely? Should non-writing visitors be allowed to read and post, read only, or not
allowed entrance? Give me some ideas...
On a related note, I
eavesdropped on Michael and PoetDevine not too long ago and heard them (unknowingly) echo
an earlier suggestion from Sage. Is it time for Passions to incorporate a chat room into
the family? The idea would be to post a weekly schedule of specific times when certain
people would be on-line and ready to chat. We could set up an hour or two a week for the
poets to discuss the great issues of life live, without the need to check a forum every
few hours. Those poets who were willing could commit to an hour when they'd be available
to chat with visitors and answer that always asked "Where do you get your
inspiration" question. We might even invite well-known poets (always ready to help
promote their latest book) to hold court occasionally. What do you think? Who would be
willing to participate? Write me!
I should have know it would
happen. Within six hours of posting the new greeting cards, I received the first (of
several) requests for wallpaper and screen savers. Ask, my friends, and thou shalt
receive. It's not on any menu, but those who now subscribe to Digital Passions (and of
course those already subscribed) can now download "some" wallpaper at
http://netpoets.com/wallpaper - which brings us to the next, and perhaps most exciting
The suggestion came from a
visitor, but it really pertains mostly to our poets. Few poets expect to make any money
from their poetry, and none of us would ever write strictly for a buck or two. But
wouldn't it be nice? The idea is to put together a CD of about 20 wallpapers, and maybe
screen savers, and offer them for sale on the web site. Each and every poet on the CD
would divide the profits evenly. On a per-poem, per-poet basis we're not talking a lot of
money. But if we sold a hundred a week? Or a thousand? Personally, I think it would be
wonderful if our resident poets could actually make some money from their hard work. It
might give them time to write more! And there are strong indications our visitors might
really appreciate it. If you're interested in participating, visit The Poet's Section and
if you can think of any ideas to make this even better, by all means write me!
What, you don't think that's
enough new ideas? Okay, I have one more for you then, though it really has little to do
with the Passions web site and more to do with our growing family of poetic friends. I'd
like everyone to stand up for a moment, please. Now, I'd like you all to give a loud round
of applause to Nancy Ness for cluing me into this amazing software. It's called ICQ and
maybe you've heard of it. Been around for a while. But unless you've actually used it, you
have no idea what you're missing. It's like instant (but controlled!) communication with
everyone you know on the Internet. You download the software at
http://www.icq.com/download and then install it. It runs in the background while you're
on-line and lets you know when someone on "your list" is also on-line. You can
chat, exchange files, and even point them to a new URL you think they'd enjoy. It's really
amazing stuff. For those who'd like to join the party, my logon is rcarnell, my email is
email@example.com (one way to find people), and my ICQ number is 2968650 (not really
necessary, but what the heck). Hope to *talk* to you soon... (And thanks again, Nance!)
What is Poetry?
William Wordsworth defines poetry as "the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings;
it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquillity . . ."
A.E. Housman tested a poem by repeating it to himself while shaving. If his razor stopped
moving, he knew it was poetry.
Dylan Thomas writes, "If you want a definition of poetry, say, 'Poetry is what makes
we laugh or cry or yawn, what makes my toenails twinkle, what makes me want to do this or
that or nothing,' and let it go at that."
Emily Dickinson say, "If I read a book, and it makes my whole body so cold no fire
ever can warm me, I know that is poetry. If I feel physically as if the top of my head
were taken off, I know that is poetry."
So -- what does poetry mean to you?
Mid Point (second poem)
by Beth Hammontree
|Poetry is a window to the soul,
Transcends time and place,
Transforms the mundane and everyday
Into the mystical and enchanting.
Poetry invites intimacy,
It brings us together.
Poetry is art.
Poetry is life.
It is a gift that sits dormant
In the soul of everyone,
Waiting to be awakened.
Poetry is a way
To lose yourself to creativity.
Poetry paints a thousand pictures
Or is painted by them.
Poetry is breath.
Without it we are struck dumb,
Flailing in uncertainty,
Helpless to express our deepest emotions
Without losing control of them.
Poetry is thought,
Set in lines of ink
That blur before
Poetry is the only magic left.
Statistic Never Lie
One of the more popular features of Passions has been the ability to send a poem to a
friend with little more than a single click of the mouse. But have you ever wondered which
poems were being sent that way? Well, I did.
We purposely don't track much information with this feature, but the server does capture a
bit. Which poem, date and time, and the IP address doing the sending. The table below,
covering a ten-day period, will give you a bit of an idea about what's happening at
Passions. These numbers do not include the Greeting Cards sent.
| Total Poem
|1 84 Lover's Dance
|2 72 In The Beginning
|3 58 When I Think of You
|4 54 Friends Forever
|5 54 Treasures
|6 40 True Love
|7 38 Friendship of the
|8 36 I'll Love You
|9 34 Miracle of
|10 27 God's Message
|11 27 Lots of Whole Bunches
|12 24 Best Friends
|13 20 When Best Friends Love
|14 18 Friends
|15 15 Wishes
|16 12 Touching A Dream
|17 10 Bed Of Roses
|18 9 Needs
|19 8 Beauty Unseen
|20 8 You
These are only the first twenty on the list of nearly
a hundred, and without the daily breakdowns. Poets, who are certainly the ones that can
garner the most information from this data, will find the full table available in the
I'm not sure what (if anything) we can learn from this data. The first thing I'll tell
you, however, is that there's only a little correlation between the poems emailed to
friends and the Votes that have been cast for favorite poem. In other words, what people
seem to appreciate on a personal level isn't necessarily the same as what they want to
share with a friend. I suspect that won't surprise many of the poets. What people feel
inside, we know, is a very personal thing.
Something not readily evident in this small snippet, but more easily seen in the full
table, is that we seem to have different concentrations of poetic types. Obviously there's
a great deal of mixing in the pot, but it would appear that on some days people are
looking for Friendship Poems and other days we have more people looking for Love Poems. So
we have Friendly days and we have Loving Days. And, judging by PoetDevine's numbers, every
day is a sensual day (and, no, that's not the first adjective that came to mind).
And, of course, you'll note that ALL of the top twenty for that particular period of time
fall into either the Friendship or the Love Poems category. We do have people sending
poems on Life and Beauty, and even on Sadness, but not nearly as many. (BTW, we also have
a lot of people sending Classical Poetry to their friends - though, again, those are
largely Friendship and Love poems.)
You might also note that, judging by this small sample, people appear to like rhyming
poems, but don't seem to care whether the meter is perfect. There's at least some
indication that the title of the poem is as important as the content, often conveying a
message all by itself. And when it comes to emailing a poem to a friend, favorite authors
are far less important than the message.
Maybe the only real thing we can learn from this very non-scientific survey is that people
out there really do want to communicate to others. When they're unable to do that
effectively in their own words, they seem to appreciate using ours. These poems give us a
small idea of what they would like to say to the people in their lives. And the common
theme seems very evident.
Maybe there's hope for this world, after all?
While we're on the topic of Visitors, I want to talk just a bit
about what ours have been saying to us. PoetDevine and I had a rather long exchange of
email the other day, talking about the tremendous growth Passions has seen in such a short
period of time. And I admitted to her I was very excited about the number of people that
are visiting our site and sharing our poetry. But the numbers are only a part of that
story, and I want to very briefly share with you the other part:
"I would like to start by thanking you for
embarrassing me at work today. I have been sitting here reading your poems with tears in
my eyes, trying to hide from my boss and workmates. Your poems on friendship and love have
given me the hugest lump in my throat."
"I just wanted to let you know that I was looking at the netpoets.com web site and
found your poems to be the very same things that are on my heart and unale to be
expressed. thank you for the opportunity to tell my friends and loved ones how I feel. I
appreciate it and thought it might bring a little joy into you life to know that your
poems are touching people's hearts."
"I am 15 and in the 10th grade. I got interested in poetry from reading Maya Angelo.
I will admit that most of my poems so far is kind of sorry but by reading some of you guys
peotry I have learned some things and got some ideas."
"Thank you so much for that mail! When I first looked at your site I knew it was a
site I would like, and I'll be sure to check it out every day for the "Poem of the
Day" as well as any updates! Your site is full of good, useful information and I'm
glad there are still people in this world that do care about others and look forw ays to
help them, and that's just what you're doing! Thank you again!"
"yes, this was one of the most meaningful poems that i've ever read. It was exactly
what i've been trying to come up with myself."
"Michael Anderson is a very talented writer, and Walking alone vs. Poe's Alone is
very intense. Numerous amount of these writes are very talented... and I was wondering if
there was any possible way that maybe you can publish maybe a selection of all of these
poems, it would just be amazing to go to the book store and see their works in reality, to
be able to own a copy of their emotions.... "
"After viewing the poem by Devoine? I realized that I was able to submit poems that I
have written but seldom show, once again thank you for letting me post my work here with
all these other great writers"
"Thank you for giving me this opportunity to submit my first poem on the internet.
Even if it doesn't get published, I still enjoyed this advantage. Again, thank you."
"I'm a homeschooler, and a wanna be writer. I loved you page because of the openness
of the poets on the page. . ."
"I've been writing for about 7 months now and I find it incredibly therapeutic, if
not invigorating to my soul. I do not feel my poetry is really complete though until I
share it, until I make a connection with someone somewhere on some cerebral level. Perhaps
this site will help me to fulfill that completion."
"hi i know that my poems may not be perfect or strongly written but i write them to
express how i feel and what i think so until i learn how to write better please bear with
"Thankyou so much for this site! Poetry is deffinetly a good way to express your self
and show your true fellings. Whenever I'm feeling sad,reading poems is like a way to deal
w/ it all. Its helps you get through your hard times. So thankyou, for helping me get
"I love this site. All the poems are so easy to relate to, no matter what kind of
mood your in or what you just went through there is a poem or someone out there who can so
beautifully and acurately put it into words."
"I am 43, divorced, a daughter, 16 and son 14, who live in another state. I have
lived in Utah all my life. I've been writing poetry seriously for 4 or 5 years now. The
poetry sites on the internet are the best thing that's happened to me for a long
"I was really impressed by the idea of these poems reaching more people than I could
myself. I have posted poems, including the one I just submitted here, at the Open Scroll,
another similar website. I like this idea for being able to send poems and/or greeting
cards to people in emails. I communicate with some of my relatives through email, and it's
hard to find a really nice card, like some of the ones I have seen here."
"I would like to THANK YOU for giving us a place to display our poetry and to read
the hearts of others.I love words from the heart and i feel that is what poetry is.Very
personal and heartfelt!!!! It is also very nice that you take the time to tell us when you
list our poetry."
"Thankyou so much for giving me a place to post my work you really did a beautiful
job. Thanks again I am very exited. Once again thankyou for your interest in my work
recieving your postcard was the best thing that happened to me all day!!!!"
"I really believe that there isn't much of a literary movement lately, especially in
poetry, so it is very comforting that it hasn't died out. Perhaps there is a new Emerson,
Thoreau, Dickinson, or Longfellow among us. Or the poets here are just ordinary people
with souls that need cleansing and comforting. Poetry, the fragile and mundane way of
expression, that is heavenly...Atleast I really believe so."
"Thank you for everything! Because of you I am happy with my writings and am inspired
to write more! Thank you!"
The number of people visiting Passions is wonderful, yes, but it's
the appreciation I see every day that makes it all worth while. These unedited, verbatim
snippets are just a small sample of the mail. I read every email or comment that comes in
and, as many of you have discovered, answer every one as well. Even if it's only to say
Thank You. And I've been saying Thank You a lot lately.
I Need Your Help
I'd like to ask everyone reading this to do me a teeny-tiny favor.
I'm sure I don't need to tell you that the more people who are able to find Passions, the
better it is for all of us. If a tree falls in the middle of the forest and there's no one
there, does it make a sound? If a poet writes a sonnet and no one ever sees it, has he
really written a poem?
Those of us who love poetry, and I know that includes everyone reading this, tend to visit
more than one poetry site each day. In fact, as a group, I think we're probably more
active on the Internet than many. And that's where I could sure use a little help from
each of you.
Promoting our web site is an important part of making it a success. Getting listed on the
Search Engines isn't enough, and even our listing in Yahoo brings us only a few hundred
visitors a day. It's the "2 from here" and "3 from there," repeated
many many times, that will help Passions grow.
The next time you visit a poetry web site, please take a brief moment to write the
webmaster and ask them to link to Passions. Their visitors will appreciate it, we'll be
happy to return the favor on our links page, and it'll help all of us grow.
And I hope that each of you will take the time to forward this free magazine to a friend
you think would benefit from it. It's just one more good way to get the word out...
Thank you. With your help, maybe I can even find a little time to write a poem now and
Poetry is one way to communicate, maybe even the best way, but it's certainly not the only
way. Another very acceptable way to communicate is to write (you knew this was coming,
didn't you) an article for Digital Passions.
We have poets among us that have been studying their craft for years, while others have
just started (and, okay, a few who don't yet know there is a craft). It would be wonderful
if the former would share a smattering of their hard-won knowledge with the latter, don't
you think? Enough, perhaps, to tease them into finding more on their own?
Here's a "suggested" list of things I would personally like to read about:
What is meter? Other than using
our "ear," how can we tell what meter a poem follows?
What are the differences (and
advantages) of rhymed, blank, and free verse?
What is metaphor? Simile? Why
are they perhaps the most powerful tools in the poet's arsenal?
How can we all improve our
imagery (what's that??) and avoid the dangers of cliche?
We know words have sounds - but
which sounds? All about rhymes, imperfect rhymes, internal rhymes, assonance, and
What is "poetic
license" and just how far can we go?
These, of course, are just idea, my friends. I would welcome any short article, on any
subject that teaches us how to be better poets. Before we throw away all our tools (and
we're allowed), let's learn what we can do with them.
Poets Only (Writing Good Descriptions)
This subject has come up repeatedly in the past ten days, so I thought I would take a
minute to discuss it here. Passions is a little different from many poetry sites, in that
we have two descriptions for every poem: the short, lead-in teaser and the longer
description displayed with the poem.
In recent email exchanges, I've been asked what purpose these serve and what's the best
way to write them. One poet recently sent me a revised long description, changing her
entry from a few generic sentences to about three paragraphs of very moving prose. I was
*more* than happy to make the change. Another poet, after submitting about five works,
wrote and said he would hold off on further submissions until he received some feedback -
especially on the long description. Well, my friend, consider yourself feedbacked...
I write the short teasers for the poem, based on my understanding of it (and if I ever
mess one up, don't be afraid to let me know), though it hasn't always been that way.
Originally, the poetry submission form contained a field for the short description, and
many of the earlier works posted on Passion were written by the author. But because there
are many short descriptions listed together, on a single page, I later decided it was
important to maintain some degree of consistency in voice. So, I reluctantly took over the
On the other hand, I also wrote a few of the longer descriptions in those bygone early
days. The poems were too darn good to reject, but I still felt a description was
necessary, so I took the liberty. Of course, that raises the very real question: why are
the longer descriptions of value?
Many of our visitors, maybe even most, are only just learning to love poetry the way we
do. They're not interested in metaphor or imagery, but in feelings and Truth. If we do our
jobs well, they'll leave Passions with a lump in their collective throats and a feeling
that poetry is a good thing. Something to be loved and cherished. And maybe, just maybe,
they'll even want to learn a little more about why poetry can be such a powerful
instrument for human understanding.
The descriptions that accompany your poetry, in many instances, act as a doorway. They
lead our visitors from the mundane world of prose, to which they are accustomed, into the
much more charged world of poetry. I don't think it's a coincidence that virtually ALL of
our most popular poems have strong, meaningful descriptions. They tell the reader a little
bit about the poem, and maybe even more importantly, they tell the reader about the poet.
People respond to our words, yes, but they also respond when they can *see* us as human
beings. They want to know what makes the poet tick. They want to know what motivates us,
what inspires us. And in understanding us, they can better understand our work.
So, what makes a good description? The same exact things that make a good poem!
Be specific. Be personal. Don't tell us this poem is about your boyfriend - tell us why
your boyfriend has so touched your life and what HE (specifically) means to you. Don't
tell us this poem is about death - tell us how death has touched YOUR life and what
SPECIFIC circumstances prompted you to write your poem. Don't tell us this poem is about
the beauty of a summer night - tell us how a SPECIFIC summer night touched your heart and
gave you glimpse into YOUR heart.
Be specific. Be personal. Don't tell us what the poem should mean to the reader. Tell us
what it means to you.
You should spend nearly as much time and effort on your description as you did on the
poem. Consider it your invitation, to the reader, to share your words and a part of your
soul. And if our visitor accepts your invitation, and better understands you as a person,
he will be in a much better position to understand your words as a poet. And he may just
leave Passions with a better understanding of himself. And, perhaps, with a love of poetry
that rivals our own.
Closing Point (final poem)
by Ron Carnell
|Poetry is not meter,
Nor even words we use.
Poetry is the willingness
And the courage and skill
To share that dream.
So that others may dream, too.
To unsubscribe from Digital Passions, please send an email message to firstname.lastname@example.org
using the SAME email address to which your subscription is sent.
If you need to change your email address, simply drop me a line at email@example.com
with the new information. I'll make sure you don't miss a single issue.
All of the opinions expressed here are purely those of me, Ron Carnell. However, if YOU
have an opinion as well, we'll be more than happy to print it here. No reason I should
have all the fun.
(c) Passions in Poetry 1999 - All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be
reproduced in whole, or in part, without the express written consent of the author. But,
by all means, feel free to forward it to a friend any way!
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Passions In Poetry
Passions in Poetry
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