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Table of Contents

Holy Thursday

Holy Thursday

Beneath Thy

Brier:  Good Friday

The Christ
upon the Hill

Christ's Triumph
after Death

Easter Wings




The Ninety
and Nine

Beneath the Cross

On Easter Day 

A Better

Easter Week


Holy Thursday:   Is this a
holy thing to see

William Blake (1757-1827)

Is this a holy thing to see
In a rich and fruitful land,
Babes reduc'd to misery,
Fed with cold and usurous hand?

Is that trembling cry a song?
Can it be a song of joy?
And so many children poor?
It is a land of poverty!

And their sun does never shine,
And their fields are bleak and bare,
And their ways are fill'd with thorns:
It is eternal winter there.

For where-e'er the sun does shine,
And where-e'er the rain does fall,
Babe can never hunger there,
Nor poverty the mind appall.


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Holy Thursday:  'Twas on a Holy Thursday,
their innocent faces clean

William Blake

'Twas on a Holy Thursday, their innocent faces clean,
The children walking two and two, in red and blue and green,
Grey-headed beadles walk'd before, with wands as white as snow,
Till into the high dome of Paul's they like Thames' waters flow.

O what a multitude they seem'd, these flowers of London town!
Seated in companies they sit with radiance all their own.
The hum of multitudes was there, but multitudes of lambs,
Thousands of little boys and girls raising their innocent hands.

Now like a mighty wind they raise to heaven the voice of song,
Or like harmonious thunderings the seats of Heaven among.
Beneath them sit the aged men, wise guardians of the poor;
Then cherish pity, lest you drive an angel from your door.

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Beneath Thy Cross
Christina Rossetti
(1830 - 1894)

AM I a stone, and not a sheep,
That I can stand, O Christ, beneath thy cross,
To number drop by drop Thy Blood's slow loss,
And yet not weep?

Not so those women loved
Who with exceeding grief lamented Thee;
Not so fallen Peter weeping bitterly;
Not so the thief was moved;

Not so the Sun and Moon
Which hid their faces in a starless sky,
A horror of great darkness at broad noon--
I, only I.

Yet give not o'er,
But seek Thy sheep, true Shepherd of the flock;
Greater than Moses, turn and look once more
And smite a rock.

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Brier:  Good Friday
E. Pauline Johnson

Because, dear Christ, your tender, wounded arm
Bends back the brier that edges life's long way,
That no hurt comes to heart, to soul no harm,
I do not feel the thorns so much to-day.

Because I never knew your care to tire,
Your hand to weary guiding me aright,
Because you walk before and crush the brier,
It does not pierce my feet so much to-night.

Because so often you have hearkened to
My selfish prayers, I ask but one thing now,
That these harsh hands of mine add not unto
The crown of thorns upon your bleeding brow.

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The Christ upon the Hill
William Cosmo Monkhouse


A couple old sat o'er the fire,
And they were bent and gray;
They burned the charcoal for their Lord,
Who lived long leagues away.

Deep in the wood the old pair dwelt,
Far from the paths of men,
And saw no face but their poor son's,
And a wanderer's now and then.

The son, alas! Had grown apace,
And left his wits behind;
He was as helpless as the air,
As empty as the wind.

With puffing lips and shambling feet,
And eyes a-staring wide,
He whistled ever as he went,
And little did beside.

He whistled high, he whistled low,
He whistled sharp and sweet;
He brought the redbreast to his hand,
And the brown hare to his feet.

Without a fear of beast or bird,
   He wandered all the day;
But when the light began to fail
His courage passed away.

He feared the werewolf in the wood,
The dragon in the dell,
And home he fled as if pursued
By all the hosts of hell.

"Ah! we are old," the woman said,
"And soon shall we be gone,
And what will our poor Michael do
When he is left alone?

"We are forgotten of all men;
And he is dead, I fear,
That good old priest, who used to come
And shrive us thrice a year.

"We have no kin," the mother said,
"We have no friend," said she;
The father gazed upon the fire,
And not a word said he.

Again she spoke, "No friend or kin,
'Death, only Death,' is near;
And he will take us both away,
And leave our Michael here.

"And who shall give him bite or sup?
And who shall keep him neat?
Ah! what were Heaven if we must weep
Before God's mercy-seat!"

And when the woman ceased, the man
  A little waited still,
And then he said, "We have one friend --
The Christ upon the Hill."


The Christ upon the Hill --so gaunt
And lean and stark and drear;
It made the heart with pity start,
It smote the soul with fear.

High reared against a cliff it stood,
Just where the great roads met;
And many a knee had worn the stone
Wherein the Rood was set.

For deadly was the pass beyond,
And all men paused to pray
For courage, or to pour their thanks
For dangers passed away.

But not for fear of beast or fiend,
But boding deeper ill,
The charcoal-burner and his wife
Slow climbed the weary hill.

Before the Rood their simple son
Lay stretched upon the ground,
And crumbled black bread for the birds
That hopped and pecked around.

(For he had gone before with feet
As wild and light as air,
And borne the basket on his back
That held their frugal fare.)

And they were faint, and, ere they prayed,
They sat them down to eat;
And much they marvelled at their son,
Who never touched his meat,

But, now the birds were flown away,
Sat up, and only gazed
Upon the Christ upon the cross,
As one with wonder dazed.

Full long he sat and never moved;
But then he gave a cry,
And caught his mother by the wrist
And said, "I heard a sigh."

"It is an image made of wood,
It has no voice," she said;
"'Twas but the wind you heard, my son,"
But Michael shook his head,

And gazed again, so earnestly
His face grew almost wise;
And now he cried again, and said,
"Look, how he closed his eyes!"

"'Tis but the shadow of a bird
That passed across his face,"
The mother said; "see, even now
It hovers near the place."

And then the father said, "My son,
The image is of wood;
And do you think a man could live
Without a taste of food?"

"No food?" the silly youth replied,
And pointed to a wren,
Who with a crumb upon Christ's lip
Had just alighted then.

And now the old man held his peace,
And the woman ceased to strive,
For still he shook his silly head,
And said, "The man's alive."

"It is God's will," they said, and knelt,
And knew not what to say;
But when they rose they felt as though
All fear had passed away.

And they could smile when Michael left
His dinner on the stone;
He said, "The birds will feed the Christ
When they are quite alone."


The couple sat before the fire,
More old, and sad, and poor,
For there was winter at the heart,
And winter at the door.

It shook the roof with shocks of wind;
It caked the pane with snow;
The candle flickered on the sill,
Like a soul that longed to go.

'Twas Michael's beacon, -- gone to feed
The Christ upon the Hill;
And midnight long had passed and gone,
And he was absent still.

And now and then they turned a log,
And now they dropped a word:
"'Twas all the wind," the mother said;
The father said, "The bird."

"I hoped that it was God himself,"
The mother muttered low;
"It must have been the fiend," he said,
"For to deceive him so."

And then the mother cried aloud,
"What matter it?" she said;
"Or wind, or bird, or fiend, or God,
For he is dead -- is dead!"

"Hark!" cried the man, and through the storm
A note came high and clear;
It was the whistle of their son,
That sound they longed to hear.

And then a cry for help, and out
Into the snow they ran;
And there was Michael. On his back
He bore a helpless man.

"He lives, he lives," he wildly cried;
"His wounds are dripping still;"
And surely, red from hand and side
There ran a tiny rill.

They brought Him in and laid Him down,
Upon the warm hearthstone;
It was the Christ, but not of wood,
But made of flesh and bone.

They washed His wounds, and at their touch
They turned to purple scars,
Like a young moon upon the breast,
On hands and feet like stars.

They brought to moisten His dry lips
They hoarded flask of wine;
They wrapped Him round with blankets warm,
And waited for a sign.

And soon without the help of hand
He rose upon His feet,
And like a friend beside the fire
He took the vacant seat.

He sat up in the chair then,
And straight began to shine,
Until His face and raiment poured
A glory most divine.

The thorns upon His forehead
Broke out in leaves of gold;
The blood-drops turned to berries,
Like rubies rich and bold.

The blankets that bewrapped Him
Flowed into folds of white,
Bestarred with gold and jewels
Which sparkled in the light.

The very chair He sat on
Became a crystal throne;
The oaken stool beneath His feet
Turned to a jasper stone.

He stretched an arm to Michael,
And touched him with His hand,
And he arose beside the throne
An angel, bright and grand.

And then His lips were opened,
And strong and sweet and clear,
Like water from a fountain,
His voice was good to hear.

"I am the King of Glory;
I am your brother too;
And even as you do to Me,
So do I unto you.

"You took Me in and clothed Me;
You washed My body pierced;
You gave me of your wine to drink
When I was sore athirst.

"And you have suffered also,
And you must suffer still;
I suffered upon Calvary;
I suffer on the Hill.

"But I am Prince of Sorrow,
And I am Lord of Care;
I come to bring you comfort,
And save you from despair.

"Your son, your only son, is safe
      And beautiful to see;
And though you miss him for a while,
      You know he is with Me.

"And I will give him peace and joy
As no man every knew --
A little grief, a little pain,
And I will come for you."

He rose, His arms around their son;
And through the open door
They only saw a whirl of snow,
And heard the tempest roar.

a while = awhile (1901).

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Christ's Triumph after Death
(excerpt from Christ's Victory and Triumph,
published at Cambridge in 1610.)
Giles Fletcher the Younger

Part I

But now the second Morning, from her bow'r,
Began to glister in her beams, and now
The roses of the day began to flow'r
In th' eastern garden; for Heav'ns smiling brow
Half insolent for joy begun to show:
The early Sun came lively dancing out,
And the brag lambs ran wantoning about,
That heav'n, and earth might seem in triumph both to shout.

Part II

Th' engladded Spring, forgetfull now to weep,
Began t' eblazon from her leafy bed,
The waking swallow broke her half-year's sleep,
And every bush lay deeply purpured
With violets, the wood's late-wintry head
Wide flaming primroses set all on fire,
And his bald trees put on their green attire,
Among whose infant leaves the joyous birds conspire.

Part III

And now the taller Sons (whom Titan warms)
Of unshorn mountains
, blown with easy winds,
Dandled the morning's childhood in their arms,
And, if they chanc'd to slip the prouder pines,
The under Corylets did catch the shines,
To gild their leaves; saw never happy year
Such joyfull triumph, and triumphant cheer,
As though the aged world anew created were.

Part IV

Say Earth, why hast thou got thee new attire,
And stick'st thy habit full of daisies red?
Seems that thou dost to some high thought aspire,
And some new-found-out bridegroom mean'st to wed:
Tell me ye Trees, so fresh apparelled,
So never let the spitefull canker waste you,
So never let the heav'ns with lightening blast you,
Why go you now so trimly drest, or whither haste you?

Part V

Answer me Jordan, why thy crooked tide
So often wanders from his nearest way,
As though some other way thy stream would slide,
And fain salute the place where something lay?
And you sweet birds, that shaded from the ray,
Sit carolling, and piping grief away,
The while the lambs to hear you dance, and play,
Tell me sweet birds, what is it you so fain would say?

Part VI

And, thou fair Spouse of Earth, that every year,
Gett'st such a numerous issue of thy bride,
How chance thou hotter shin'st, and draw'st more near?
Sure thou somewhere some worthy sight hast spied,
That in one place for joy thou canst not bide:
And you dead swallows, that so lively now
Through the flit air your winged passage row,
How could new life into your frozen ashes flow?

Part VII

Ye primroses, and purple violets,
Tell me, why blaze ye from your leafy bed,
And woo men's hands to rent you from your sets,
As though you would somewhere be carried,
With fresh perfumes, and velvets garnished?
But ah, I need not ask, 'tis surely so,
You all would to your Saviour's triumphs go,
There would ye all await, and humble homage do.


There should the Earth herself with garlands new
And lovely flow'rs embellished adore,
Such roses never in her garland grew,
Such lilies never in her breast she wore,
Like beauty never yet did shine before:
There should the Sun another Sun behold,
From whence himself borrows his locks of gold,
That kindle heav'n, and earth with beauties manifold.

Part IX

There might the violet, and primrose sweet
Beams of more lively, and more lovely grace,
Arising from their beds of incense meet;
There should the swallow see new life embrace
Dead ashes, and the grave unheal his face,
To let the living from his bowels creep,
Unable longer his own dead to keep:
There heav'n and earth should see their Lord awake from sleep.

Part X

Their Lord, before by other judg'd to die,
Now Judge of all himself; before forsaken
Of all the world, that from his aid did fly,
Now by the Saints into their armies taken;
Before for an unworthy man mistaken,
Now worthy to be God confess'd; before
With blasphemies by all the basest tore,
Now worshipped by Angels, that him low adore.

Part XI

Whose garment was before indipt in blood,
But now, imbrighten'd into heav'nly flame,
The Sun itself outglitters, though he should
Climb to the top of the celestial frame,
And force the stars go hide themselves for shame:
Before that under earth was buried,
But now about the heavens is carried,
And there for ever by the Angels heried.

Part XII

So fairest Phosphor the bright morning star,
But newly wash'd in the green element,
Before the drowsy Night is half aware,
Shooting his flaming locks with dew besprent,
Springs lively up into the orient,
And the bright drove, fleec'd all in gold, he chases
To drink, that on the Olympic mountain grazes,
The while the minor Planets forfeit all their faces.


So long He wander'd in our lower sphere,
That heav'n began his cloudy stars despise,
Half envious, to see on earth appear
A greater light, than flam'd in his own skies:
At length it burst for spite, and out there flies
A globe of winged angels, swift as thought,
That on their spotted feathers lively caught
The sparkling earth, and to their azure fields it brought.

Part XIV

The rest, that yet amazed stood below,
With eyes cast up, as greedy to be fed,
And hands upheld, themselves to ground did throw
So when the Trojan boy was ravished,
As through th' Idalian woods they say he fled,
His aged guardians stood all dismay'd,
Some lest he should have fallen back afraid,
And some their hasty vows, and timely prayers said.

Part XV

Toss up your heads ye everlasting gates,
And let the Prince of Glory enter in
At whose brave volley of siderial states,
The sun to blush, and stars grow pale were seen,
When, leaping first from earth, he did begin
To climb his angels' wings; then open hang
Your chrystal doors, so all the chorus sang
Of heav'nly birds, as to the stars they nimbly sprang.

Part XVI

Hark how the floods clap their applauding hands,
The pleasant valleys singing for delight,
And wanton mountains dance about the lands,
The while the fields, struck with the heav'nly light,
Set all their flow'rs a smiling at the sight,
The trees laugh with their blossoms, and the sound
Of the triumphant shout of praise, that crown'd
The flaming Lamb, breaking through heav'n, hath passage found.


Out leap the antique Patriarchs, all in haste,
To see the pow'rs of Hell in triumph led,
And with small stars a garland interchas'd
Of olive leaves they bore, to crown his head,
That was before with thorns degloried,
After them flew the Prophets, brightly stol'd
In shining lawn, and wimpled manifold,
Striking their ivory harps, strung all in chords of gold.


To which the Saints victorious carols sung,
Ten thousand Saints at once, that with the sound,
The hollow vaults of heav'n for triumph rung:
The Cherubins their clamours did confound
With all the rest, and clapp'd their wings around:
Down from their thrones the Dominations flow,
And at his feet their crowns, and sceptres throw,
And all the princely Souls fell on their faces low.

Part XIX

Nor can the Martyrs wounds' them stay behind,
But out they rush among the heav'nly crowd,
Seeking their heav'n out of their heav'n to find,
Sounding their silver trumpets out so loud,
That the shrill noise broke through the starry cloud,
And all the virgin Souls, in pure array,
Came dancing forth, and making joyous play;
So him they lead along into the courts of day.

Part XX

So him they lead into the courts of day,
Where never war, nor wounds abide him more,
But in that house, eternal peace doth play,
Acquieting the souls, that new before
Their way to heav'n through their own blood did score,
But now, estranged from all misery,
As far as heav'n and earth discoasted lie,
Swelter in quiet waves of immortality.


brag = Brisk, lively
eblazon = Shine forth
purpured = Clothed in purple, i.e. scarlet
Sons ... of unshorn mountain = Trees; Titan = sun
Corylets = Hazel-copses (Latin corylus, a hazel)
Spouse of Earth = sun
flit = Swift
rent = Rend
sets = Plants, i.e. leaves and stem
unheal = uncover (from Old English helian to cover)
frame = structure
heried = praised. (from Old English herian, to praise)
Phosphor = planet Venus as a morning star
besprent = sprinkled
He = Christ
globe = troop, body, one of the senses of the Latin globus
The sparkling Earth = The Saviour
The rest ... did throw = See:  Acts, 1:9-11
So... prayers said = Imitated from Virgil's AEneid
The Trojan boy = Ganymede
Toss ... enter in = See:  Psalm 24:7
volley = In the sense of French volie, a flock, troop.
States = Princes.
heav'nly birds = Angels; Dante refers to an angel as "l'uccel divino", "the bird of God"
wanton = Playful, joyous
degloried = dishonoured
Saints = Believers in the older testament
Cherubins / Dominations = angels
Martyrs = See Hebrews 11:35-40
Reference to Revelation 14:4?
discoasted = separated
Swelter = Steep


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Easter Wings
George Herbert

LORD, who createdst man in wealth and store,
Though foolishly he lost the same,
Decaying more and more,
Till he became
Most poor:
With thee
O let me rise
As larks, harmoniously,
And sing this day thy victories:
Then shall the fall further the flight in me.

My tender age in sorrow did begin:
And still with sicknesses and shame
Thou didst so punish sin,
That I became
Most thin.
With thee
Let me combine
And feel this day thy victory
For, if I imp my wing on thine,
Affliction shall advance the flight in me.

The poem is written to appear as wings.


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George Herbert

HAVING been tenant long to a rich Lord,
Not thriving, I resolved to be bold,
And make a suit unto him, to afford
A new small-rented lease, and cancell th'old.

In heaven at his manor I him sought:
They told me there, that he was lately gone
About some land, which he had dearly bought
Long since on earth, to take possession.

I straight return'd, and knowing his great birth,
Sought him accordingly in great resorts;
In cities, theatres, gardens, parks, and courts:
At length a heard a ragged noise and mirth

Of thieves and murderers: there I him espied,
Who straight, Your suit is granted, and died.

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Bring flowers to strew His way,
Yea, sing, make holiday;
Bid young lambs leap,
And earth laugh after sleep.

For now He cometh forth
Winter flies to the north,
Folds wings and cries
Amid the bergs and ice.

Yea, Death, great Death is dead,
And Life reigns in his stead;
Cometh the Athlete
New from dead Death's defeat.

Cometh the Wrestler,
But Death he makes no stir,
Utterly spent and done,
And all his kingdom gone

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John G. Neihardt

ONCE more the northbound Wonder
Brings back the goose and crane,
Prophetic Sons of Thunder,
Apostles of the Rain.

In many a battling river
The broken gorges boom;
Behold, the Mighty Giver
Emerges from the tomb!

Now robins chant the story
Of how the wintry sward
Is litten with the glory
Of the Angel of the Lord.

His countenance is lightning
And still His robe is snow,
As when the dawn was brightening
Two thousand years ago.

O who can be a stranger
To what has come to pass?
The Pity of the Manger
Is mighty in the grass!

Undaunted by Decembers,
The sap is faithful yet.
The giving Earth remembers,
And only men forget.

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The Ninety and Nine
Elizabeth Cecilia Clephane
Scottish Orphan and Children's Writer

THERE were ninety and nine that safely lay
In the shelter of the fold;
But one was out on the hills away,
Far off from the gates of gold,
Away on the mountains wild and bare,
Away from the tender Shepherd's care.

"Lord, Thou hast here Thy ninety and nine
Are they not enough for Thee?"
But the Shepherd made answer, "This of Mine
Has wandered away from Me;
And although the road be rough and steep
I go to the desert to find My sheep."

But none of the ransomed ever knew
How deep were the waters crossed;
Nor how dark was the night that the Lord passed through
Ere He found His sheep that was lost.
Out in the desert He heard its cry,
Sick and helpless and ready to die.

"Lord, whence are those blood drops all the way
That mark out the mountain's track?"
"They were shed for one who had gone astray,
Ere the Shepherd could bring him back."
"Lord, whence are Thy hands so rent and torn?"
"They were pierced tonight by many a thorn."

And all through the mountains, thunder-riven,
And up from the rocky steep,
There arose a cry to the gate of heaven,
"Rejoice, I have found My sheep!"
And the angels echoed around the throne,
"Rejoice, for the Lord brings back His own."

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Beneath the Cross
Elizabeth Cecilia Clephane

BENEATH the Cross of Jesus,
I fain would take my stand,
The shadow of a mighty rock
Within a weary land;
A home within the wilderness,
A rest upon the way,
From the burnng of the noontide heat,
And the burden of the day.

Upon the Cross of Jesus,
Mine eye at times can see
The very dying form of One
Who suffered there for me.
And from my smitten heart, with tears,
Two wonders I confess, --
The wonder of His glorious love,
And my own worthlessness.

I take, O Cross, thy shadow
For my abiding-place;
I ask no other sunshine than
The sunshine of His face:
Content to let the world go by,
To know no gain nor loss,
My sinful self my only shame,
My glory all, the Cross.

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On Easter Day
Oscar (Fingal O'Flahertie Wills) Wilde

THE silver trumpets rang across the Dome:
The people knelt upon the ground with awe:
And borne upon the necks of men I saw,
Like some great God, the Holy Lord of Rome.
Priest-like, he wore a robe more white than foam,
And, king-like, swathed himself in royal red,
Three crowns of gold rose high upon his head:
In splendor and in light the Pope passed home.
My heart stole back across wide wastes of years
To One who wandered by a lonely sea,
And sought in vain for any place of rest:
"Foxes have holes, and every bird its nest,
I, only I, must wander wearily,
And bruise My feet, and drink wine salt with tears."

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A Better Resurrection
Christina Rossetti

I have no wit, no words, no tears;
My heart within me like a stone
Is numb'd too much for hopes or fears;
Look right, look left, I dwell alone;
I lift mine eyes, but dimm'd with grief
No everlasting hills I see;
My life is in the falling leaf:
O Jesus, quicken me.

My life is like a faded leaf,
My harvest dwindled to a husk:
Truly my life is void and brief
And tedious in the barren dusk;
My life is like a frozen thing,
No bud nor greenness can I see:
Yet rise it shall--the sap of Spring;
O Jesus, rise in me.

My life is like a broken bowl,
A broken bowl that cannot hold
One drop of water for my soul
Or cordial in the searching cold;
Cast in the fire the perish'd thing;
Melt and remould it, till it be
A royal cup for Him, my King:
O Jesus, drink of me.

Note:  For lines 5 and 6, refer to Psalms 121:1 ... "I lift up my eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help"


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Easter Week
Charles Kingsley

    SEE the land, her Easter keeping,
Rises as her Maker rose.
    Seeds, so long in darkness sleeping,
Burst at last from winter snows.
    Earth with heaven above rejoices;
Fields and gardens hail the spring;
    Shaughs and woodlands ring with voices,
While the wild birds build and sing.
    You, to whom your Maker granted
Powers to those sweet birds unknown,
    Use the craft by God implanted;
Use the reason not your own.
    Here, while heaven and earth rejoices,
Each his Easter tribute bring
    Work of fingers, chant of voices,
Like the birds who build and sing.


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Request:  Does anybody have any poetry recommendations for Easter Poems?
If so, e-mail us your ideas by

© Beverly Schmitt 1997-2004, all rights reserved
Questions/Comments? E-mail

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