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´╗┐Title: A Life's Story, In Poetry - Other Poems
Author: Woodcock, Dennison
Language: English
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A Life's Story and Other Poems
By Dennison Woodcock

A Life's Story,
In Poetry.

Other Poems

By Dennison Woodcock
Wrights, Penna

Written at 
The Age of Ninety One.

Chas. O. Laymon, Printer,
Port Allegany, Penna.

From One to Ninety-One

(By Dennison Woodcock)

Borne down by weight of ninety years
   My limbs have weaker grown;
'Mid joy and grief,  'mid smiles and tears
   How quick the years have flown.
I look 'way back, a distant view,
   To years of long ago.
I asked my brother if he knew
   What caused the winds to blow.

My brother answered me with ease,
   As if prepared to know;
It is those slim and lofty trees
   That make the wind to blow.
I looked and saw the lofty pines
   Waving to and fro;
They were full proof within my mind
   They were what made it blow.

When I felt the chilling breeze,
   The snowflakes whizzing round;
I felt a grudge against those trees.
   And wished they were cut down.
But a wee bit of a child
   Knew naught of nature's laws;
My mind was often running wild
   And took effect for cause.

Saw water gushing from a mill,
   Heard a fluttering sound;
As we went riding up the hill,
   The saw went up and down.
It remained a mystery still,
   The thing I could not know;
How water running through a mill
   Could make the saw to go.

A bush had lopped into a stream,
   Was bobbing up and down;
I thought that I had solved the theme
   The truth there I had found.
I went and fixed a limber stick,
   A saw attached also;
It run on water from the creek,
   The saw it would not go.

I went there to recruit my skill,
   Saw pitman, crank and wheel;
Then I went home and built a mill,
   With saw of tempered steel.
When I built that little mill
   I something more than played;
It helped to point mechanic skill.
   It helped to learn a trade.

To Boston went to learn a trade,
   It was the iron founder's,
Many patterns there I made,
   And learned to use the pounders.
Pattern-making was a trade,
   Was often in demand;
When I wished a casting made,
   The shape it came to hand.

When I was fifteen years of age
   I started for the west;
Sometimes I rode upon the stage,
   Sometimes got off to rest.
When I came to Clinton's Ditch
   I went on board a boat;
My  mind was raised to highest pitch.
   So many things to note.

A query how two boats could pass,
   With lines from boat to shore;
The horses stopped, the line it sunk,
   The boat went passing o'er.
It was a mystery to me,
   How boats went through the locks:
But then I soon began to see,
   When in between the rocks.

The boat was run into the lock,
   The gates were closed below;
The boat it bumped against the rock,
   Water began to flow.
Soon that spacious flume was full.
   The gates above were swung;
The hoses then began to pull,
   The boat it moved along.

We ate and drank within the boat,
   Was seeming much like home;
We passing many towns of note,
   Looking for more to come.
No railroads running then that way.
   No, none in all the land;
Riding sixty miles a day
   Was then thought something grand.

Rochester, near Sandy Ridge,
   Where roaring falls there be,
Canal it crosses on a bridge,
   Across the Genessee.
In a race the water ran,
   The falls so high and steep;
Where Sammy Patch, that foolish man
   There made his fatal leap.

I left the boat and took to land,
   A trip of eighty miles;
Where my friends had made a stand
   Far in the Western wilds.
Now the West has taken flight
   Three thousand miles or more;
Thru valleys bright, o'er mount'ns high
   Unto the western shore.

For a shop I built a shed
   And covered it with bark;
I worked until the day had fled,
   From morning until dark.
I built for me a turning lathe,
   Made bedsteads, tables, chairs;
I built a bureau for my ma
   And sometimes did repairs.

I found plenty of work to do
   To keep me from all harm,
And when my father wanted me
   I helped him on the farm.
A seventeen laid out a frame,
   A building for a school;
Where a youth might learn to read
   If he was not a fool.

When I was eighteen years of age,
   Somewhat inclined to roam;
Then I unto old Swanzey went,
   My old and native home.
The same good man was teaching there
I visited the district school
   Saw those I used to know;
   that taught me year ago.

To Athol factory I went,
   Was looking for employ;
'Twas by good luck there I was sent,
   For I was just the boy.
We had a first-rate boarding place,
   It was a lucky chance;
The factory girls were boarding there
   We often had a dance.

Five long months we labored there,
   Till finished was the task;
When I went to draw my pay
   They paid more than I asked.
I worked on houses, barns and mill,
   And helped to build a church;
'Twa long I work'd and labored there,
   Refrained from spending much.

I of old Swanzey took a view,
   Her rivers, brooks and fountains;
Bid old Monadnock last adieu
   From top of the Green Mountains.
My father needed all I earned
   In payment on his land;
Huge piles of timber there he burned
   to get it off his hand.

Still kept working for my father,
   A revenue to bring,
Making buckets in the winter
   And sugar in the spring.
So we made a pile of sugar,
   Enough to sweeten many throats;
Helping Nathan log a fallow,
  To sow a field of oats.

I worked at different kinds of work,
   I worked at making chairs,
And I also made two cutters,
   And sometimes did repairs.
When twenty-two in Hallsport bought
   A lot, 'twas rough and new;
To me an interesting spot,
   So pleasing to my view.

A limpid stream was running there,
   'Till make machinery whirl;
Here I'll build a dwelling fair
   For that prospective girl.
I from there to Whitesville went,
   Worked for Joseph Cory;
A house for Matthew Wilson built,
   Here I'll tell a story.

He had a daughter young and fair,
   Just budding into bloom;
She was a lively helper there,
   The sunshine of her home.
I felt my heartstrings give a start,
   They snapped like burning twine;
And so she stole away my heart
   And gave me hers for mine.

So Colonel Matthew Wilson, 'Squire,
   Gave me a loving bride;
New life's vicissitudes to share,
   A helpmeet by my side.
Worked forty days to buy two stoves
   To warm our little fold;
To boil potatoes, bake our loaves,
   And drive away the cold.

I undertook to build a house,
   Was often gee's and haw'd;
The season it was very dry,
   My logs they were not sawed.
No circular mills in that day
   Were run by water's flow,
The upright saw went "yerk te yerk"
   As Paddie's toad did go.

I built a shanty snug and warm,
   It was inside the frame;
It shielded us from cold and storm
   And from the snow and rain.
When the spring and summer came
   And my logs were sawed;
'Twas then that I enclosed the frame,
   Had rooms more long and broad.

The upper rooms a dwelling were,
   The lower room a shop;
There I made machinery purr,
   Could make it go or stop.
A Western fever seized my brain,
   It was in forty-four;
So we wandered south and west
   Three thousand miles or more.

We did not find that favored spot.
   That o'er productive soil;
Where peace and plenty was our lot,
   And pleasures banished toil.
So we came home and went to work.
   It strengthens limb and wind;
The idleness of lazy shirk
   Will prove a constant grind.

Built a machine for turning bowls,
   It turned them smooth and round;
It seemed to prove a turning point,
   It turned me out of town.
For bowl timber grew very scarce,
   Hard work finding any;
So we left our Hallsport home
   For wilds of Pennsylvania.

And so we built us there a shop,
   Brother Nathan and I,
And there we climb'd the mout'n top,
   Whose summits pierced the sky.
We cut down trees and sawed of blocks,
   And made them nearly round.
And then we cleared away a path
   And saw them rolling down.

Typhoid fever siezed my wife,
   My brother lost a child;
So trouble seemed to hedge us round
   Here in the forest wild.
Our dear mother came to see us,
   Here she took sick and died;
It seem'd that fate was bound to treens
   At length we stemmed the tide.

He thought he saw a greater charm
   On Alleghany's hill,
With cows and horses on a farm,
   The fruitful soil to till.
And so I bought my brother out
   And ran the work alone,
Was in my prime then, strong and stout,
   I much hard work have done.

And so my neighbors bro't the blocks,
   The turning I would do;
With skill and labor earned the rocks 
   And helped my neighbors too.
I built for me a larger shop
   With greater water power;
It served to make machinery hop
   Almost every hour.

We bought a new carding machine,
   David Wilson and I;
It showed I was not very keen,
   The business had gone by.
They sold their wool to ship away,
   Came back already made;
If you hire a maid today
   A greater price is paid.

Other machinery in the shop
   Employed my time in full;
So I could make my business whop
   Without the aid of wool.
My shop was helping me to build,
   In paying for my land;
Was helping be to buy my bread,
   A helper still in hand.

My wife and I we built a house,
   We made it snug and warm;
To shield us from the chilling blast
   And from the pelting storm.
We realized a long desire;
   But ah! A blighting joke,
My shop was wrapped in flaming fire
   And all went up in smoke.

The burning shop it knocked me out.
   Gave me a sideway toss;
Was on the down-hill side of life.
   Could not retrieve my loss.
I then worked out at hard days work
   On houses, barns and mill,
All to supply our needed wants,
  Our stomachs to keep still.

They built the railroad here at last,
   After much surveying,
So they cheaply rushed it past
   After much delaying.
It caused the lumberman to hump
   And low the hemlocks laid,
And left us nothing but the stump
   Of sombre hemlock shade.

They laid bare the lofty hills,
   And the valleys also;
They rushed the logs into the mill,
   From there away they go;
I built for me another shop
   With lathes and a buzz-saw;
'Twas there I worked ant mending sleds
   The hemlock logs to draw.

In the spring when sledding flees,
   Still worked to earn the rocks;
I neckyokes turned and whiffletrees,
   And also lever stocks.
Lumbermen gone, the farmer comes,
   He works with care and toil;
He burns the brush, blows out the stumps,
   Draws money from the soil.

He crowds the forest up the hill,
   It yields to his desire;
He makes his pastures broader still,
   All with the help of fire.
At the little hamlet Wrights,
   The farmers come to get their mail.
And to buy at prices right 
   The many things for sale.

Where once I heard the wild bird sing,
   In forest dark and drear,
Now I hear the church bells ring
   In tones so loud and clear.
While the lumber wagon ploughing
   Through mud holes deep and wide,
Now merry parties for an outing,
   In automobiles glide.

Now I'll turn back on memory's page
   And note things of my time;
The uplifting of the age,
   And evolution's climb.
The Erie Canal was building
   When I was three years old;
Unnumbered boats it has floated 
   And brought in piles of toll.

A barge canal they are building,
   State of New York is growing rich;
Compared with the new the old one
   Was but a little ditch.
Then th' next thing comes th' railroad.
   Of almost boundless worth;
Its iron bands are now reaching 
   Almost around the earth.

They have tunnel'd the lofty mount'ns
   Clear through from side to side;
And bridged the gushing fountains,
   That trains may smoothly glide.
The north unto the south are bound,
   And gridironed all the land,
From the Missouri's turbid mouth
   To Lake Superior's sand.

The telephone and telegraph,
   They give a rising start;
Are helping people talk and laugh
   A hundred miles apart.
With lightning speed th' news is hurl'd 
   On many wires is sped;
Yesterday's news from all the world 
   In morning papers read.

Then came the mower and the reaper,
   The farmer's great delight,
Have driven the scythe and the sickle
   Almost away from sight.
With the help of machinery,
   Much of his work is done;
With help of steam and good horse power
   Machinery is run.

Agricultural colleges
   In almost every state;
They are lifting up the farmers
   From a low drudging fate.
They've tapped the earth for oil and gas
   Houses to light and warm;
That cheerfulness may reign within,
   While outside howls the storm.

Then came the Wheeler and the Singer
   Others that worked complete;
Helps the woman's tired fingers
   While sewing with her feet.
The type-setter, wonderful thing,
   New one, under the sun;
Whole lines it will together fling,
   From melted metal run.

I am here with loving friends,
   Kind neighbors all around;
I wait to see what will turn up
   Until I am turned down.

(Dennison Woodcock)
Diadama, Diadama
   Precious name so dear to me;
No other girl in Allegany
   Thrills my loving heart like thee.
Fairer than the blushing flowers
   Gentle as the turtle dove,
Bear me on ye heavenly powers
   To the bosom of my love.

Thus sang a youth by love invaded,
   Who felt the sting of Cupid's dart;
In riper years his boy-love faded,
   He sought not to win her heart.
In memory lingers every feature,
   Fair as in the days of yore,
Yet he knows that once loved creature
   Mortal eyes can see no more.

In the giddy dance they mingle,
   As in years so long gone by;
How it makes his heart strings tingle
   When he meets her smiling eye.
In the schoolroom he is with her,
   Learning lessons by her side,
Often wondering if ever
   She will be his loving bride.

That face, alas! He'll see it never,
   Those ruby lips no longer red,
Those sparkling eyes are closed forever,
   And every pleasing charm has fled.
Soon the memory and remembered,
   Although once in youthful prime
Will no longer make a riffle
   On the ceaseless tide of time.

She gave me a fresh and blooming rosy,
   Little maiden fair to see;
Fairer than the blushing posy
   Dear Leona gave to me.

An inward radiance impart
   Virtue and truth combine;
Let an honest, faithful heart
   With outside beauty shine.


(Dennison Woodcock)

Jessie by the fountain stood
   With pitcher in her hand;
She dipped it in the crystal flood
   And gave each thirsty man
Who from the hay fields gathered there,
   And standing near the brink,
From a gentle hand so fair
   Received the cooling drink.

A smile of joy was in her eye,
   A consciousness of good;
She felt a blessing from on high,
   Approval of her God.
Water pure is all they need
   To drive their thirst away;
So again they all proceed 
   To work amid the hay.

Then drink of water pure and clear,
   From stimulants refrain,
'Twill not with business interfere
   Or cause a muddled brain.
Another stands behind the bar,
   Rather out of place;
A seared conscience seems to mar
   The beauty of her face.

She cares not for children's woes
   Or anxious mother's need;
While money to her coffer goes
   To gratify her greed.
Men go there their thirst to check
   With brandy, rum and gin;
She throws a halter round their necks
   Which drags them there again.

Their money gone and senses too,
   More thirsty than before;
What do these foolish mortals do
   But beg and plead for more.
They stagger out into the street,
   With curses on their tongue,
With palsied hands and tangled feet,
   A sight for old and young.

Which one is a source of pride
   And which a social scar,
Jessie by the fountain side,
   Or Greed behind the bar?


(Dennison Woodcock)

Some Senecas once went away 
   In search of food and game;
They wandered on from day to day,
   To little Toby came.
An Indian maiden blithe and gay
   Was one among the throng;
Who often cheered them on their way
   With loving words and song.

She trod as lightly as the fawn;
   Her song the hours beguiled;
Her voice was heard at early dawn
   Through the green forest wild.
Her song of joy is hushed and gone,
   Nor echoes through the glade;
For death has placed his mark upon 
   That sprightly Indian maid.

A mother's joy, a father's pride,
   They could not save their child;
So the Indian maiden died
   Far in the forest wild.
They would not leave her body there,
   So far from home away;
But bore it with a zealous care,
   Many a weary day.

Come to a spring that met the stream
   That passed their happy home;
Buried her by the moonlight gleam
   Beneath the starry dome.
They often came to view the spot
   Where Dehewamis lay;
Till father, mother, sister, brother,
   All had passed away.

The water gushes from the spring,
   The lofty maples wave;
The summer birds their carols sing
   O'er her lonely grave.


I had rum, and gin, and brandy
   All made of whiskey, too,
And all arranged so handy
   To tempt their thirsty view.
Oh! no they need not talk it,
   Those were happy times.
With hand in drunkard's pocket
   Hauling out the dimes.

Was I starving others?
   Then so let it be;
Those children and the mothers
   Did not belong to me.
While lying in the gutter,
   A mother's loving son,
Conscience began to mutter
   At the deed I'd done.

Then came this consolation
   Just in the nick of time;
The law of state and nation
   Had legalized the crime.
For I had got my license,
   Had paid my license fee;
So the squeemish nonsense
   Had no effect on me.

The brewers of the nation
   To the constitution go,
To save their occupation
   From the prohibition blow,
Wonder if the constitution
   Would reinstate me here;
Defend me from invasion
   While selling rum and beer.

For temperance is booming,
   My license now is dead,
And poverty is coming,
   My children cry for bread.
Gambling I've been trying
   But could not stand the test;
With all my cheat and lying
   I came out second best.

I wish I'd stuck to labor,
   Earned my bread by honest toil,
Like my hale and happy neighbor
   Who ploughs and tills the soil.
My flesh is made of lager,
   My muscles weak and lax;
I cannot turn the auger,
   Swing the hammer or the ax.

My children's cries so wounding,
   My heart with anguish torn;
My troubles so confounding,
   I wish I'd not been born.
The thread of life I'd sever
   And lay myself to rest;
But thoughts of the forever
   Send trouble to my breast.

Should I meet with retribution
   Beyond the bounds of time,
Neither law nor constitution
   Would legalize the crime.

(Dennison Woodcock)

Among the spurs of Allegheny
   Lofty hills with wooded heights,
Nestled in the Portage Valley
   Is the little hamlet Wrights.
Hamilton and Portage Valley
   By right angles, here unite;
Both together make a fairly
   Good and level village site.

Limpid streams unto the river
   On their way go babbling by;
While the silvery pools, they mirror
   Cloudlets floating in the sky.
Growing grain and verdant meadows,
   Fields of corn, silos to fill;
Winding streams and waving willows
   Orchards on the sloping hill.

Cattle grazing in the pasture
   On the hillside fresh and green,
With their coats of silky luster,
   Many goats and kids are seen.
There's the schoolhouse at the corner,
   Quiet order there appears,
Where the earnest studious learners
   Are prepared for future years.

There's the church with lofty steeple,
   And the old bell hanging there,
Often rings to call the people
   To their sermon, praise and prayer.
Another church they are building,
   The foundation they have laid;
May the golden truth be gilding
   All the words that there are said.

On the switch the cars are loaded
   With potatoes, grain and hay,
So the farmers are commoded
   As they ship their goods away.
Hark! we hear the train a-rumbling.
   People waiting for a ride;
Four times a day the mail is coming,
   All aboard! Away they glide.

There's the store nearby the railroad,
   Business humming every day;
Goods are brought there by the carload
   Many teams draw them away.
Another store where the farmer
   Buys the tools that he may need;
From a reaper to a hammer,
   Groceries with feed and seed.

The factory where they make the cheeses,
   Great round cheeses, just the thing
What the most the patron pleases
   Is the cash the cheeses bring.
Here the honest, frugal farmers
   With the help of care and toil,
Bringing wealth into their garners,
   Drawing money from the soil.
Smiles play on the the neighbors' faces,
   Accent of fraternal love,
While at many times and places,
Kindly deeds their friendship prove.

There was a very silly fly
   Buzzing low, then flying high;
Down on paper smooth and fair
   Saw some flies were sticking there.
"Those flies must be very weak,
   On that paper there to stick..
If I was there I would not stay,
   I would rise and fly away."

He lit down on the paper's side,
   Flew a circle large and wide,
He thought to give a parting kick,
   Found at last the stuff would stick.
He struggled hard to get away,
   Found that he was doomed to stay;
'Twas there he sung a doleful lay
   Until life had passed away.

A smart young lad would oft repair
   Where the smokers gathered there;
Says "I will show you that I can
   Smoke as well as any man."
His smoking made him rather sick;
   Hove his breakfast very quick;
He smoked a little every day,
   Learned to smoke as well as they.

Thought he could quit at any time,
   With his feelings in their prime;
Refrained from smoking all one day,
   Things were looking dark and gray,
Those saucy imps they at me stare,
   Trouble meets me everywhere,
Conscience whetted to an edge
   By promises on memory's page.

Those broken pledges at me stare,
   Fiends are floating in the air;
The Devil's got me in his gripe.
   "Give me, give me back my pipe!"
He, like all others of his stripe,
   Lifelong slave unto his pipe,
And like the little, silly fly
   Doomed to stick until they die.


Behold that house on Pleasant street,
   Just let us enter there;
All arrangements so complete,
   Appropriate and fair.
Music in Adjoining room
   So grateful to the ear;
Fragrant flowers in fullest bloom
   And beauty doth appear.

Choice books there on the table lie,
   Wisdom for great and small;
The pantry with its full supply;
   There're pictures on the wall.
The father comes at closing day,
   The mother greets with joy,
The laughing children 'round him play
   He pets his toddling boy.

Peace pervades that happy place,
   Where all is bright and free;
Its loving inmates go and come,
   In sweetest harmony.
Grief has blighted that fair bloom,
   The work of cursed rum,
The fetid breath of the saloon
   Has to that dwelling come.

A thump is heard against the door,
   The children flee away;
They wish to see his face no more
   While whiskey rules the day.
The faithful wife opens the door,
   The husband staggers in,
He stumbles prostrate on the floor,
   Borne down by rum and gin.

While helping him unto his bed--
   Oh! who could tell us why--
He clenched his fist and struck her head
   And gave a blackened eye.
His bank deposits slip away
   To the rumsellers till,
Whose business is from day to day
   The drunkards' graves to fill

Piano gone by sheriff's sale,
   The music hushed and still;
The mother's sigh, the daughter's wail
   Now the apartments fill.
The pictures gone from off the wall,
   The carpets from the floor,
To meet necessity's stern call,
   Keep hunger from the door.

The daughter's jewels all are gone
   Unto the broker's fled;
Her choicest clothing one by one,
   To buy their daily bread.
Vultures in human form await
   To make this maid their game
Should hunger, want and cruel fate
   Crowd out all sense of shame.

Oh! this horrid ghastly wound,
   The work of cursed rum;
Oh! can a healing balm be foundation
   This side the world to come.

Our fathers thought it was a cause
   Well worth their undertaking.
To fight those arbitrary laws
   They had no hand in making.
The principle they now ignore,
   Since we have been a nation;
Taxing women o'er and o'er,
   Debarred from legislation.

Great Britain thought we would not fight
   Or dare to show resistance;
They looked to might to make it right
   With justice at a distance.
Woman in the background held,
   Her soul for wisdom yearning
While her loving heart has swelled
   With a desire for learning.

You shall not vote the men declare,
   Ye daughters and your mothers.
Then go and set a hellish snare
   To trap their sons and brothers.
Because the women do not fight
   Use the sword or rifle
Is relegated out of sight
   As a useless trifle.

The whiskey ring, her greatest foe
   Oft blocks her aspirations;
It dares not let her vote we know
   'Twould send it from the nation.
The colleges excluded her;
   With minds of small dimension,
They tho't their lofty teachings were
   Beyond her comprehension.

The sword of might can't make it right,
   The woman's pen is stronger.
Her tongue and pen will tame their might,
   They can't hold our much longer.
She is keeping steady pace
   with aspiring brothers,
Winning for herself a place
   Among D. D's and others.
Soon her voice will resound
   In halls of legislation,
Then love and justice will abound
   To purify the nation.


My many friends both large and small
   A merry Christmas to you all;
We met to point, a scene we know,
   Transpiring many years ago.
On the blest morning bright and fair,
   Glad angels singing in the air;
Good will to men this glorious morn
   We sing to all a saviour born.

With gratefulness the song prolong,
   And echo back the angels' song;
With love to God, good will to men,
   We gladly sing the song again.
Although His advent here on earth
   It was a meek and lowly birth.
His matchless wisdom still will shine
   Adown the ceaseless years of time.

We celebrate the best we can
   Kind Heaven's greatest gift to man,
In mem'ry of this gift of heaven,
   These many gifts are  to be given.
God showed his love to everyone
   By giving us his only son,
Let grateful thoughts our glad hearts move,
   And celebrate God's precious love.

And let love glow in every heart.
   A genial radiance impart;
Make us a heaven here below,
   A taste of joy the angels know.
There is no fairer scene on earth,
   Than days that mark our Saviour's birth;
The yearly blossoming of love,
   While through the holidays we move.

Old and new year, met together,
   One with memories, hope in the other;
Reach as we will there sure will come
   A ray of joy or cloud of gloom.
The choice is as we may desire,
   Can stand on mount or sink in mire;
None can look back on passing year
   Not seeing good if he's sincere.

All years are good in heaven's sight,
   If we but see them all aright,
So keep a watch and do good deeds,
   Chance will come as time proceeds.
Let the old man on nature 'pringe,
   Open his door on rusty hinge,
Look on the trees, the fields and dells
   Listen to the jingle of sweet sleigh bells.

Behold the rivers, brooks and springs,
   Mountains and vales till nature sings.
Let the dear children skip and play,
   Enjoy their lives now while they may.
Soon they must themselves prepare
   For sterner things and greater care
And when they larger, wiser, grow,
   Will help the world to move and go.

Were we ourselves in proper tone,
   So like the wireless telephone;
Heavenly music it might bring,
   While sweet the angel voices sing.
The Christmas tree so bright and fair,
   With many presents hanging there,
Loaded with gifts from top to floor,
   May each on have a gift or more.

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Life's Story, In Poetry - Other Poems" ***

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