Poetry

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Plath- Miss Drake Proceeds to Supper p.3

C- Follows the journey of a women suffering with mental illness. As she moves along the hallway she imagines the patterned roses of the carpet may 'devour and drag her down'.

A- Plath creates a detached observer, who sympathises with the subject of the poem.

T- Personification- 'Which allay the malice', Alliteration- 'woman in the ward/wears purple', Monosyllables- 'with bird-quick eye cocked askew'

S- Poem is set in two stanzas, the second of  which creates a more uneasy tone. There is enjambment throughout each stanza, highlighting reflection and consideration.

L- Tulips- facing mental health.

Biographical note: Plath was in and out of mental health institutes 1953-56 due to suicide attempts.

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Plath- Spinster p.4

C- Presents a woman whose main aim is to instill order and control within a relationship, which is more important than the love involved.

A- Plath uses words throughout to represent order and disorder such as 'ceremonious', 'irregular', 'litter', 'uneven', 'disarray', showing the qualities love can have in upsetting blance.

T- Plath uses the idea of an antithesis, creating an idea that is opposite to the norms and views of society, highlighting the importance of self control over love.

S- The poem is made up of 5 stanzas, showing the change from the chaos that has been caused to the restoration that the woman in the poem creates.

L- 'Wuthering Heights'- nature relationship, being trapped, needing to gain control.

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Plath- Maudlin p.5

C- Focuses on the pressures put upon women to look their best, whilst emphasising hardships women must face including the menstrual cycle. Men expect women to appear perfect all of the time, whatever the cost, men do not have this trouble.

A- An anger towards men, men are the reason women must attain 'pin-stitched skin' and 'purchase each white leg'. Stanza two highlights this as no one pays any attention to the speaker's pain, she is still expected to look perfect.

T- Enjambment, metaphor- 'crack-less egg'- men do not suffer the menstrual cycle. Plath also uses juxtaposition in the words 'hag' and 'virgin', creating two opposite views of women.

S-Poem is made up of two short stanzas, featuring enjambment.

L- Link to the fable of the little mermaid- 'Fish tailed girls purchase each white leg'- women give up many things to please men, in this case, giving up a voice to become human.

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Plath- Night Shift p.7

C- Focuses on the mechanical world which never stops, it carries on all night whilst everyone else sleeps.

A- Looks at men, a world aside from the one the speaker lives in.

T- Personification- 'stunned the marrow', onomatopoeia- 'boom', 'beating'. Lots of 'ing' throughout- lots of verbs create a sense of urgency, it is happening now, it isn't complete. Visual rhyme- hear, beating.

S-Made up of 6 stanzas, enjambment throughout. Story told through an i-speaker, making them detached from the situation.

L- 'The Stones', looks at humans operating machines, or even working as machines in order to fix things. Spinster- The influence of masculine presence, as well as the balance between tranquility and chaos.

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Plath- Full Fathom Five p.8

C- Focuses on the idea that death isn't a negative thing, merely a passage between two worlds. The poem focuses on a father daughter relationship as shown by the speakers address to their father. This relationship goes between the realm of the living and the dead, a poem about loss and detachment. Draws upon the Electra complex as the speaker states 'Your shelled bed I remember.'

A- The poem is full of old imagery- 'white hair, white beard', 'wrinlking', creates the idea that the father figure is all-encompassing as he is compared to a 'dragnet' and 'skeins'.

T- Lots of sibilance creating a 'shh' sound, images of the sea.

S- End stopped lines at end of poem symbolise the idea of drowning, reaching the end.

L- Link to 'Daddy', focuses on relationship with Father after death.

Biographical note: Plath's own Father died whilst she was young. A journal entry by Plath in 1958 states that Plath viewed the sea as a central metaphor for her childhood.

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Plath- Suicide off Egg Rock p.10

C- Follows a man as he attempts suicide through walking into the sea.

A- The man is defiant, nothing stops him, confirmed by the 'tattoo' of his heart affirming his existence.

T- Personification- 'sun struck', pathetic fallacy- 'sea's garbage', plosives and consonants throughout second stanza, creates angry, harsh sounds.

S- Poem is told through the eyes of a narrator witnessing the man's suicide attempt, sympathetic towards him, understanding his struggle.

Biographical note: poem links to an extract from Plath's semi-autobiography, 'The Bell Jar'.

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Plath- The Hermit of Outermost House p.11

C- Focuses on  a man who has chosen to live in solitude and has consequently become one with his landscape. The poem focuses on themes of solitude, men, myth and life and death.

A- Focuses on strength, the hermit 'withstood' the greatest forces, he is a warrior in his own right.

T- Personification- 'Rock-face, crab-claw verged on green.'

S- Regimented three lined stanzas create a sense of tranquility- the person in the poem is happy with there surroundings, they are calm.

L- This poem is a contrast to 'Suicide off Egg Rock', as the man in SOER wants to die and is rejected by his landscape.

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Plath- Medallion p.12 *******

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Plath- The Manor Garden p.13

C- Focuses on a pregnancy and immanent birth. This is shown through the 'gifts of a difficult borning' (linked to the gifts of the three wise men), and the idea of inheritance.

A-The speaker appears to focus on fatalism, imagining the worst case scenarios, they are afraid of what is to come, caused by the uncertainty of what is to come.

T-Focuses a lot on natural images, 'bee's wing', 'pig', 'worms', 'mist', 'pears', 'fishes', 'white heather', nothing man made.

S- The first stanza is made up entirely of end stopped lines, showing the way in which the speaker is sure of these events, that this initial information is what they are used to and is clear to them. However, the rest of the poem is fragmented, showing the way in which the speaker is unsure how they feel about these events.

L- The three wise men

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Plath- The Stones p.14

C- This poem focuses on being in hospital and, more importantly, being 'fixed'.

A- There is no direct mention in this poem that the speaker is discontent, yet the final stanza suggests that they have been brainwashed, they appear to have a re-constituted voice and have been told that they 'shall be good as new', despite the fact that their 'medings itch'. They are clearly afraid that they will be ill again, or perhaps would feel more normal if they were ill again. The patient appears to be resistant as shown by the fact that they are 'swaddled' in bandages, that they did not agree to having such. Furthermore, once the speaker is well again, they refer to this new life as 'the after-hell', they were happy as they were.

T- There are harsh consonants throughout, showing the way in which the speaker is unforgiving and resentful at the way they have been treated.

S- Uniform three lined stanzas- has been perfectly moulded and formed.

L- Links to 'Nightshift' and the mechanics involved, link to 'Tulips', 'The Stones' and 'Facelift', through hospitalised experiences.

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Plath- The Burnt-Out Spa p.16

C- Follows a woman as she walks through an old spa building, seeing it in ruin. She catches a glimpse of herself in the water yet is taken aback at this, she seeks to improve her life.

A-The speaker appears to be intrigued by this building, describing herself as 'a doctor or archaeologist' as she explores the building. It is this discovery of self that makes her realise she needs more out of life aqs currently it 'neither nourishes nor heals'.

T- Sibilance- 'Soft suede tounges' creating the image of a snake.

S-

L- 'The Hermit of Outermost House'- at one with nature, calm.

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Plath- You're p.18

C- The speaker talks their baby during their pregnancy. This is clearly a very maternal, very proud mother who cannot wait to meet their child.

A- Phrases such as 'A clean slate, with your own face on' show the speakers excitement at this new start for a child. Furthermore the speaker is clearly proud of their ability to bare children, referring to the baby as 'my little loaf', something belonging to her.

T- Uses false proverbs- 'snug as a bud', which should be snug as a bug. However, bud i clearly more appropriate as it is new, pure and unopened, unaware of the outside world.

S- Two stanzas, lots of end stopped lines, very certain of the joy the speaker experiences.

L- Compare with 'Morning Song'.

Biographical note: Plath was pregnant with her first child at this time.

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Plath- Face Lift p.19

C- Appears to be a dialogue of two different women, one who has had a negative experience of hospital and surgery as a child and one whom has chosen to undergo cosmetic surgery, and sets out to prove to her companion that everything has changed now.

A- The first speaker (who had a negative experience) speaks of 'banana gas' and a 'nauseous' feeling. However, the other woman describes herself as 'Cleopatra', a powerful woman, through dominance and sexuality. She says that 'the years drain[ed] into [her] pillow' as she slept, showing the way surgery is now able to practically turn back time. Towards the end their is resentment towards her former, supposedly less beautiful self, saying that 'they've trapped her in some laboratory jar' and she's happy to 'let her die there.'

T- Metaphor- 'Darkness wipes me out like a chalk on a blackboard'

S- First stanza is of apprehensive speaker, the rest of the poem is another woman, yet both women speak in first person narrative.

L

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Plath- Morning Song p.21 ************

C- This poem presents a different view to 'You're' in that being a mother has become difficult since giving birth, now that her child is not physically connected to her all of the time through the womb, the speaker feels detached from the baby.

A- Detachment- 'I'm no more your mother' shows the way the speaker feels this baby could belong to anyone. Fatigue- the mother is seen to 'stumble' from bed, they see morning break as the sky 'swallows its dull stars'.

T- Simile- 'your mouth opens clean as a cat's'

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L-'You're'- before and after motherhood, transition from pregnancy to having a baby.

Biographical note: Plath suffered postnatal depression.

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Plath- Tulips p.22

C- This poem focuses on a patient in hospital. They view the hospital as a sanctuary, it is peaceful and quiet, everything is clean and white. They refer to themselves as a 'pebble', merely one of millions, not one to stand out, making them feel as if they belong, any abnormalities they may have do not matter here. They are annoyed at the gift of tulips from their family, the red of the flowers disrupts the serenity of the ward and remind them of the chaos at home.

A- The speaker wants to be left alone. They are happy in their solitary state. The Tulips symbolise the idea of being trapped as the speaker states that 'the vivid tulips eat my oxygen'.

T- Personification- 'tulips eat my oxygen', metaphor- 'My body is a pebble'

S- No enjambment- despite situation thoughts are clear, the speaker knows what she wants and how she feels.

L- Link to 'The Stones'- hospitals, being a pebble, one of many

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Plath- Insomniac p.25

C-This poem focuses on the duality of a person's life, being both awake and asleep. It is a detached POV, allowing room for imagery and the effect of nature on the mind. The mind is allowed to go off on a tangent, just as when we dream.

A- The narrator sees the frustration of the insomniac at his lack of sleep, drawing upon details such as the 'invisible cats' outside of the sleepless room. Surreal- 'Carbon paper', what they are experiencing isn't real, it is just a copy.

T- Many end stopped lines allows for lots of different thoughts to come to light.

S- 5 separate stanza's, the fourth of which appears to give an insight to the ming.

L-'Cut'- A stream of consciousness, allowing the mind to run away with itself, even if it doesn't make total sense.

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Plath- Wuthering Heights p.27

C- The speaker appears to be uncomfortable with their surroundings, they are envious of the sheep that 'know where they are' and do not have the same uncertainties that the speaker has.

A- The speaker feels as if they don't belong. Throughout the poem the speaker creates ideas of blankness, bleakness and blackness, gaining no joy from this place that to others may be breathtaking, the speaker is totally separate from this peaceful landscape.

T- Simile- 'The horizons ring me like faggots'.

S-The structure is irregular, creating a sense of uneasiness and uncertainty.

L-'The Hermit of Outermost House'- nature links, 'Spinster', due to lack of control relating to natural forces. Janice Markey- suggests all Plath's poems about Yorkshire are bleak and negative.

Biographical note: Hughes lived in Yorkshire for a large majority of his life.

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Plath- Finisterre p.29

C- In this poem the speaker uses many phrases that create an image of being between life and death.

A- The poem lacks emotion, as if the speak is detached from their landscape. It speaks of the landscape as if it is dying itself, holding on to the world in any way possible.

T- Imagery, Personification-'This was the land's end: the fingers knuckled and rheumatic'

S- Each stanza is a separate reflection of the speakers surroundings, drawing upon different elements and details each time.

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Plath- The Moon and the Yew Tree p.31

C-This poem follows a woman who feels as if the graveyard she findsherself in is far greater than anything she could ever hope to be. The poem also touches upon the idea of resurrection, as 'the yew tree points up' and 'eight great tounges affirm[ing] the Resurrection'.

A-The speaker talks of the differences between Mary and the moon, two different types of mother. The moon is detached and unwelcoming, she is not maternal like Mary.

T- Sibilance and assonance- 'Spiritous mists'.

S- Narrator exploring a graveyard, uneasy at their surroundings, but sure of their feelings, as shown by the clear uniform stanzas.

L- Hughes' 'Red'- links of the idea of blue being pure and tranquil.

Biographical note: This poem is based upon a graveyard in view from Plath's house in Devon.

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Plath- Mirror p.32 ******

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Plath- The Babysitters p.33

C- Follows two girls who work as 'babysitters', living in with rich families, seeing *** rich people live. The girls are clearly quite young, referring to their employers as 'the big people', perhaps not truly ready to be working away from home. Towards the end of the poem as they reach the island they have ventured to on their day off they are rejected by the landscape as they have to beat off diving gulls. Since this day, the girls appear to have lost contact.

A- Resentful- 'Nights, I wrote in my diary spitefully', mocking-'And the seven-year-old wouldn't go out unless his jersey stripes matched the stripes of his socks.'

T- Personification- 'the grass inched round'.

S- No enjambment, makes memories clear.

L- 'Suicide off Egg Rock'- rejected by landscape.

Biographical note: Plath was a nanny when this poem was written.

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Plath- Little Fugue p.35 ***********

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Plath- An Appearance p.37 ******

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Plath- Crossing the Water p.38 ********

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Plath- Among the Narcissi p.39

C- An elderly man recovering from 'something on the lung', recuperating, finding comfort in nature.

A- Sympathy- the narrator takes a sympathetic view to the man, saying that 'there is a dignity to this', respecting the mans solace with the natural world. The narrator also sees the narcissi as a support to him, stating as the wind tries his breathing that thay are there to 'look up like children, quickly and whitely', they are there to care.

T- Personification- 'The narcissi too, are bowing to something big', 'the narcissi look up like children'.

S- i-speaker- looking fondly upon the neighbour

L- 'The Hermit of Outermost House'- relationship with nature.

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Plath- Elm p.40

C- Appears to follow a woman telling a friend she understands her pain, likely relating to mental illness. She has felt at her lowest, and has recovered, and wants to use her experience to guide her friend through.

A- Empathetic- they have been in the same point in life, share life experiences.

T- Imagery- The image of a tree and birds threaded throughout. The bird represents the mental illness, disguised throughout, hidden within the tree. Sibilance- 'suffered the atrocity of sunsets'.

S- Small, three line stanzas. Indicates the simplicity of the friend's tone, she is gentle, she has no hidden agenda, just wishes to provide comfort for her friend.

L- CRITIC QUOTE- Marsack-"Plath is not interested in the geographical situation [of the tree], but how it speaks to her condition.

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Plath- Poppies in July p.42

C- Speaks of the pain killer element that poppies clearly have (opium), and compares them to fire, the way they flicker and blaze but do not burn or harm her.

A- Awed by the poppies' beauty- 'I cannot touch you'. Desperate for a remedy, desperate for sleep- 'If I could bleed, or sleep!'

T- Personification- 'watch you flickering like that'- speaker feels that they are able to converse them, tell them how they feel.

S- Detached speaker- 'it exhausts me to watch you/ Flickering like that'.

L- 'Poppies in October'

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Plath- A Birthday Present p.43

C- The speaker appears to be trying to uncover a secret someone close to them is holding, possibly their partner. They are aware that this secret could upset them, could hurt them, and yet they still want to know. They describe it in the form of  a present, it may be something wonderful, it may be something they never wanted to discover.

A-Unknowing- 'I do not mind if it is small.. I am ready for enormity', they want to know at all costs.

T- Repetition- 'Adhering to rules, to rules, to rules.'

S- Couplets, some enjambment, some end stopped lines- irregularity, desperation and panic.

L- 'Elm'- a secret waiting inside, unable to break free, desperate to break out, but well hidden.

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Plath- The Bee Meeting p.46

C- Follows a narrator uncertain of their own identity, a loss of identity and a consequential discovery of the self. Everyone else in the poem appears to have their own identity, they don't share the same sense of panic as the narrator. They all have labels- 'The rector, the midwife, the sexton'.

A- Vulnerability-'I have no protection', Ostracised-'Why did nobody tell me?', Fear-'They will not smell my fear, my fear, my fear', Affinity for the bee-'She is very clever'.

T-Deliberate misappropriate of a proverb/saying- 'Snug as a virgin', Sibilance-'Secretary of bees with her white shop smock', Repetition-'She is old, old, old' 'my fear, my fear, my fear'.

S- Enjambment- creates story tone as the speaker recounts the story.

L- 'Lesbos'- rejection from landscape, detached, You're-'Snug as a bud' v 'Snug as a virgin'.

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Plath- Daddy p.48

C- This poem focuses on how the death of the speaker's father has affected her. This poem sends at mixed signals, she misses her Father, and is devastated at his death, but at the same time she is very angry at him for leaving her whilst she was still so young and had so much growing up to do.

A- Anger- 'I have had to kill you. You died before I had time.' Burden-'Big as a Frisco seal'- a great weight to bare.

T- Rhyme throughout- 'you', 'do', 'blue', 'to', 'shoe' e.t.c.

S- Narrator, clearly set stanzas, five lines, calm, collected thoughts, it has taken the speaker this long to be able to write about her Father.

L- 'Full Fathom Five'- Death of father.

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Plath- Lesbos p.51

C- Looks at the two different lifestyles two women yearn for- that of domesticity and motherhood, and that of glamour. There are two very clear opinions, with the speaker (the motherly figure) disapproving of the other woman's choice to live without children.

A- Bitter- 'I see your cute decor'- she is unable to have these things due to having children, but would never choose them over her children.

T- Repetition- 'You acted, acted, acted for the thrill'

S- Monosyllabic stanza towards the end of the poem- 'Now I am silent, hate/ up to my neck,/ Thick, thick./I do not speak.' creates bitter tone.

L- 'The Munich Mannequins'- a woman without children is wrong, not a woman at all. 

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Plath- Cut p.54

C-This poem freezes the moment of the narrator as they cut their thumb. This stream of consciousness may have been induced by alcohol as the speaker states they are 'cluthing' their 'bottle of fizz'.

A- Detached- The speaker has removed themselves from the situation, their mind is in other places, all based upon this one event. Violence- 'The Indians axed your scalp'.

T- Rhyme threaded throughout to link- 'Thrill...ill...pill...kill'.

S- Each stanza is a different metaphor for the cutting of the speakers thumb, each creating a different image.

L- 'Words'- cutting down of a tree leading to anew world of poetry.

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Plath- By Candlelight p.56 *********

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Plath- Ariel p.58

C- This poem contains many feminine images, such as the mention of 'hair, 'thighs' and 'Godiva', along with many others.

A- Freedom- 'Hauls me through the air', the ride on the horse frees her. Femininity- 'Gods lioness'.

T- Metaphor- 'And I/ Am the arrow'- She is the warrior. Could also be a phallic symbol due to the penetrative quality of an arrow. Sibilance- 'Stasis in darkness./ Then the substanceless blue.'

S- 6th stanza is monosyllabic- Things are as they appear at this point, things seem to have simplified.

L-'Full Fathom Five'- The view of life and death as two separate geographical places. 'Red' by Hughes- In Hughes' poem, he prefers his love in blue, yet she feels more powerful in red. In this poem, she gains her power throughout, finding red at the end. CRITICS- Some argue poem is a metaphor for the creative process, in order to write you must leave behind the past to create something fresh and new, you must step out of the literal.

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Plath- Poppies in October p.60

C- This poem creates a sense of confusion for the speaker. It is uncommon for poppies to be in bloom in October, which causes her to be humbled by the vivid life of the flowers. The flowers are more powerful than human life as 'the woman in the ambulance'[s] heart falters.

A- Death- 'Carbon monoxides'

T- Personification-'Even the sun-clouds this morning cannot manage such skirts.'

S- 4 Stanzas, each three lines, show assured nature despite confusion of the situation caused by the late poppies and the woman in the ambulance. Everything is just going on around the speaker, she is detached, a mere observer.

L- 'Poppies in July', 'Among the Narcissi'- the effect nature has on people and the relationships people are able to develop with their surroundings. 

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Plath- Nick and the Candlestick p.61 ********

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Plath- Letters in November p.62

C- This poem follows a woman as she walks the grounds of her house, 'stupidly happy' and childlike in her wellingtons, this a very upbeat poem.

A- Happiness, self sufficiency- 'This is my property'.

T- Onomatopoeia- 'Squelching and squelching', Metaphor- 'silk grasses- babies' hair'

S- Mixture of end stopped lines and enjambment, happiness but certainty.

L- 'Youre', immense happiness related to children.

Biographical note: This poem was written in the same year that Plath's son Nicolas was born.

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Plath- Death and Co. p.65 *********

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Plath- Mary's Song p.66 ********

C- This poem focuses on the ultimate sacrifice, one that the virgin Mary had to experience- losing a child. It looks at the pain a woman must face in bringing a child into the world and then having to let them go.

A-Enormity- The world is a dangerous place, cannot protect a child for their entire life. Persistent pain- 'They do not die'.

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L- Bible story -'O golden child the world will kill and eat'- The body as bread, the blood as wine.

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Comments

Elliot Valentine

Yes Harrie!

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