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The Sorrow of Love, W. B. Yeats
Posted by: lg (---.ca.charter.com)
Date: January 03, 2005 03:38PM

Here's your request, Ian:

Author: Noy


ermm....mind to share your assumption about poem 'the sorrow of love' by wb yeats?
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Author: lg (---.ca.charter.com)


Perhaps one of our readers has an opinion:

The Sorrow Of Love
by William Butler Yeats

THE brawling of a sparrow in the eaves,
The brilliant moon and all the milky sky,
And all that famous harmony of leaves,
Had blotted out man's image and his cry.
A girl arose that had red mournful lips
And seemed the greatness of the world in tears,
Doomed like Odysseus and the labouring ships
And proud as Priam murdered with his peers;
Arose, and on the instant clamorous eaves,
A climbing moon upon an empty sky,
And all that lamentation of the leaves,
Could but compose man's image and his cry.

Les

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Author: Hugh Clary

Was Odysseus doomed? Priam was the father of Paris (who abducted Helen of Troy), and was killed when the Greeks finally sacked the city. Is the girl with the red lips Maud Gonne?

It might be of value to compare an earlier version of this same poem:


The Sorrow of Love - 1892 (The other was 1925)

The quarrel of the sparrows in the eaves,
The full round moon and the star-laden sky,
And the loud song of the eversinging leaves,
Had hid away earth's old and weary cry.

And then you came with those red mournful lips,
And with you came the whole of the world's tears,
And all the sorrows of her labouring ships
And all the burden of her myriad years.

And now the sparrows warring in the eaves,
The crumbling moon, the white stars in the sky,
And the loud chaunting of the unquiet leaves,
Are shaken with earth's old and weary cry.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Author: ns

WOW - A Yeats' work-in-progress!!!!!!!
Hugh, thank you!

I spend an hour on the earlier one trying to find out why Priam was proud. Couldn't.

Now I am thinking - how does this:
Doomed like Odysseus and the labouring ships
And proud as Priam murdered with his peers;

Inprove upon this:
And all the sorrows of her labouring ships
And all the burden of her myriad years.

Is the change only because of better alliteration and assonance, at the cost of getting the point across better? Or does this get the point across better?

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Author: Hugh Clary

Yes, the rhymes are identical, except for the switch from years to peers.

1.
eaves/sky/leaves/cry
lips/tears/ships/years
eaves/sky/leaves/cry

2.
eaves/sky/leaves/cry
lips/tears/ships/peers
eaves/sky/leaves/cry


I think the scansion is better in the 2nd version, as well as showing how Yeats solved some of the problems inherent in the first. Too many 'ands', for example. The frequent repetitions become overpowering.

If one can (once again) infer that he is talking to/about MG, then we could interpret it so that,

The brawling of a sparrow in the eaves,
The brilliant moon and all the milky sky,
And all that famous harmony of leaves,
Had blotted out man's image and his cry.

Well, the title is the Sorrow of Love, so I would think man's cry is a lamentation for love lost, or unattainable. Yeats is possibly sitting in his study, listening to the complaining bird and watching the (full) moon outside. He is not unhappy at this moment, but then he remembers Maud.

A girl arose that had red mournful lips
And seemed the greatness of the world in tears,
Doomed like Odysseus and the labouring ships
And proud as Priam murdered with his peers;

A girl who had greatness in her soul, sparking Yeats's recollection of Greek myths/history. Maud is compared to Odysseus and to Priam, all the while being much like Helen who was the cause of those events. And the mere thought of his lost love gives him heatache once again.

Arose, and on the instant clamorous eaves,
A climbing moon upon an empty sky,
And all that lamentation of the leaves,
Could but compose man's image and his cry.

Are his thoughts better communicatated in the final version? Your call.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Author: IanB


Can our benevolent moderator kindly split this thread into two, so that the interesting comments about Yeats' 'The Sorrow of Love' have a proper thread name and aren't located at the end of a thread about Margaret Atwood's 'Mushrooms'?

It's bad enough having the 'Mushrooms' thread name mutate into 'poem analysis'. How can that happen?!
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Author: Hugh Clary

Hey, twenty years from now, who will care? We will look back on this thread and laugh.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Author: ns

I hate scanning Yeats. It makes me feel like I don't know how to scan a poem ..... which is probably true.
I hate it and yet here I am ..... giggling through all the difficult bits.

1.
the QUArrel of the SPArrows in the EAVES,
The FULL round MOON and the STAR-LAden SKY,
And the LOUD SONG of the EVerSINGing LEAVES,
Had HID aWAY earth's OLD and WEARy CRY.

And THEN you CAME with those RED MOURNful LIPS, (????)
And WITH you CAME the WHOLE of the WORLD'S TEARS,
And ALL the SORrows of her LAbouring SHIPS
And ALL the BURDen of her MYriad YEARS.

And NOW the SPArrows WARring in the EAVES,
The CRUMBling MOON, the WHITE STARS in the SKY,
And the LOUD CHAUNting of the UNquiet LEAVES, (?)
Are SHAKen with EARTH'S OLD and WEARry CRY.


2.
the BRAWling of a SPARrow in the EAVES,
The BRILliant MOON and all the MILKy SKY,
And ALL that FAMous HARmony of LEAVES,
Had BLOTted out MAN'S IMage and his CRY.
A GIRL aROSE that had RED MOURNful LIPS
And SEEMED the GREATness of the WORLD in TEARS,
DOOMED like oDYsseus and the LABouring SHIPS
And PROUD as PRIam MURDered with his PEERS;
aROSE, and on the INstant CLAmorous EAVES,
A CLIMBing MOON uPON an EMPty SKY,
And ALL that LAmenTAtion of the LEAVES,
Could BUT comPOSE man's IMage and his CRY.

I think the scansion is better in the 2nd version,
Yes I would agree. I cannot say exactly why, though. It just looks like it is scanned better.

The frequent repetitions become overpowering.
Do you mean the frequent repetitions of little words like 'in the', 'of the', 'and all the'; or the stronger words like 'earth's old and weary sky' and 'in the eaves'; or both?

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Author: Hugh Clary

Most of your scanned lines lack the required 5 beats, which I would force in my reading, even if it causes words like OF to get a boom, or even HARmonY. He intended pentameter, instead of tetrameter, that is. Any time you hear more than two unstressed syllables in a row, it is wise to seek another interpretation. That is to say Yeats uses almost 100% iambs, trochees, anapests and dactyls. Yeah, mebbe an occasional spondee as well, but I cannot decide whether a spondee is two stressed syllables as one foot, or two separate single-foot syllables. No such thing as a single-syllable foot, you say? I have heard that as well.

I thought the scan was better in the 2nd because the (rhythm) pentameter comes through stronger.

For your other note, I thought too many lines began with 'and'. Sure, he only lost three of them (7 to 4), but at least they don't tumble one after the other.
===================================================
Author: ns

Yes, thanks. Now it's working better.
Just one more question. In an adjective-noun pair would you demote the otherwise stressed adjective as in:

A GIRL aROSE that HAD red MOURNful LIPS

Or would you keep it as an anapest that leads on to a trochee?

A GIRL aROSE that had RED MOURNful LIPS

Both ways, the lines are in pentameter so it does not matter, I guess. But would you have kept "red" stressed or unstressed?

There are quite a few instances of similar lines.

Had BLOTted out MAN'S IMage AND his CRY.
Could BUT comPOSE man's IMage AND his CRY.

More so in the first version, interestingly enough.

---
2.
the BRAWling OF a SPARrow IN the EAVES,
The BRILliant MOON and ALL the MILKy SKY,
And ALL that FAMous HARmoNY of LEAVES,
Had BLOTted out MAN'S IMage AND his CRY.
A GIRL aROSE that had RED MOURNful LIPS
And SEEMED the GREATness OF the WORLD in TEARS,
DOOMED like oDYsseus AND the LABouring SHIPS
And PROUD as PRIam MURDered WITH his PEERS;
aROSE, and ON the INstant CLAmorous EAVES,
A CLIMBing MOON uPON an EMPty SKY,
And ALL that LAmenTAtion OF the LEAVES,
Could BUT comPOSE man's IMage AND his CRY.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Author: Hugh Clary

Without having heard WBY read it himself, we can but speculate about those instances where the intent is ambiguous. The general rule is that nouns and verbs get primary stresses, but adjectives are so often seen stressed before nouns that the lines get blurred. Giving prepositions and conjunctions a hard stress seems to contradict, but it happens a LOT.

As you mention,

A GIRL aROSE that HAD red MOURNful LIPS

fits the pentameter, but is unlikely.

A GIRL aROSE that had RED MOURNful LIPS

This is the way I would hear it.

The rest I hear as you do, except the last line where,

Could BUT comPOSE man's IMage AND his CRY.

would be changed to,

COULD but comPOSE ...

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Author: Marty

Sorry to butt in....Can I ask.....Who changed William Yeats' poem in 1925, from its 1892 version?

Marty



Post Edited (01-03-05 20:29)


Re: The Sorrow of Love, W. B. Yeats
Posted by: lg (---.ca.charter.com)
Date: January 03, 2005 03:41PM

It's bad enough having the 'Mushrooms' thread name mutate into 'poem analysis'. How can that happen?!


How can that happen, Ian, people don't read the small print. Nor do they really care to know. Probably one third of the posters on the homework threads do not check back to see whether or not their query has been answered.


Les


Re: The Sorrow of Love, W. B. Yeats
Posted by: Marty (---.247.72.102.up.mi.chartermi.net)
Date: January 03, 2005 04:10PM

Ok...Yeats himself. Guess I didn't read everything thoroughly enough. Over 30 years later?


Re: The Sorrow of Love, W. B. Yeats
Posted by: JohnnySansCulo (---.nycmny83.covad.net)
Date: January 03, 2005 04:24PM

Apparently he was very busy correcting people who kept trying to rhyme him with Keats


Re: The Sorrow of Love, W. B. Yeats
Posted by: Marty (---.247.72.102.up.mi.chartermi.net)
Date: January 03, 2005 04:46PM

So busy those days just turned into decades......whew! Guess I'm old fashioned or don't like the idea of revision because I like his first version better.

Marty


Re: The Sorrow of Love, W. B. Yeats
Posted by: lg (---.ca.charter.com)
Date: January 03, 2005 05:01PM

I agree with you Marty, putting them side by side, it seems the later version is pretentious, though he seemed to solve the problem of what to do with all those "ands".

Les


Re: The Sorrow of Love, W. B. Yeats
Posted by: lg (---.ca.charter.com)
Date: January 03, 2005 05:22PM

I spend an hour on the earlier one trying to find out why Priam was proud. Couldn't.

He was king of Troy. I think pride probably comes with the kingdom.

[en.wikipedia.org] />

Les


Re: The Sorrow of Love, W. B. Yeats
Posted by: Desi (---.adsl.proxad.net)
Date: January 03, 2005 05:54PM

Here you can find it too:
[www.lib.rochester.edu] />
I just checked the illiad:
[classics.mit.edu] />
for every occassion of Priam, but as far as I can tell, he is never called proud. Wonder when he started being proud.


Re: The Sorrow of Love, W. B. Yeats
Posted by: Hugh Clary (---.denver-04rh16rt.co.dial-access.att.net)
Date: January 03, 2005 07:23PM

Hey, his brat steals the babe from a fellow king, and Priam won't give her back, even when both asked nicely, and threatened with war? That's an abundance of pride!


Re: The Sorrow of Love, W. B. Yeats
Posted by: JohnnySansCulo (---.dyn.optonline.net)
Date: January 03, 2005 08:34PM

Priam was proud
of priapusy prows
on the ships
that he kept
far away from the cows


Re: The Sorrow of Love, W. B. Yeats
Posted by: lg (---.ca.charter.com)
Date: January 03, 2005 08:59PM

Wonder when he started being proud.

Desi, you don't necessarily have to be proud to be called "proud". Especially by a poet, who might just be playing an alliterative game with words.


Les


Re: The Sorrow of Love, W. B. Yeats
Posted by: ns (---.bng.vsnl.net.in)
Date: January 03, 2005 11:41PM

for every occassion of Priam, but as far as I can tell, he is never called proud. Wonder when he started being proud.
Exactly! That was my thought too. Some sites say Achilles was proud. I thought pride of Priam was something special. Obviously not.

Hugh's reply to my scansion query
Thanks for your help. I 'hates Yeats' a little less now.


(Tauba. I don't hate Yeats.)



Post Edited (01-03-05 22:49)


Re: The Sorrow of Love, W. B. Yeats
Posted by: Marty (---.247.72.102.up.mi.chartermi.net)
Date: January 04, 2005 01:18AM

The "ands" have it in my book. When read aloud, they not only don't seem cumbersome, but give a sense of sorrowful longing......not exactly urgency or desperation...but a melodious longing for love.

The second version has a hardened and bitter quality and removes or changes anything that "personalized" or let emotion come through. The sparrows no longer just quarreling(words).........but brawling (physical);
"you"......detaches and becomes "a girl"; the addition of "Doomed" gives a more angry tone and finality; the sky that contained "stars" is now "empty"; the leaves go from simply being "unquiet" to "lamenting". The most telling is the last line in the second version when he ADDS personalization by identifying "man's image and HIS cry" rather than using a metaphor with the"earth's old and weary cry" as one might want to do when the pain is fresh and there remains the slightest chance of recovery.

I don't know the story or whether it was customary for poets to resurrect and revise a piece after 33 years, but I think he did it because he still loved her and was embittered by his loss.

Marty


Re: The Sorrow of Love, W. B. Yeats
Posted by: Desi (---.adsl.proxad.net)
Date: January 04, 2005 08:22AM

">Wonder when he started being proud.

Desi, you don't necessarily have to be proud to be called "proud". Especially by a poet, who might just be playing an alliterative game with words."

Let me rephrase, I wonder who was the first poet/writer that called him proud. The phrasing was a vain attempt at humour.


Re: The Sorrow of Love, W. B. Yeats
Posted by: Marty (---.247.72.102.up.mi.chartermi.net)
Date: January 04, 2005 09:10AM

Isn't he talking about the woman in his poem?...".proud as Priam murdered with his peers". So the issue at hand has more to do with the woman and how he feels about her than about Priam himself.


Re: The Sorrow of Love, W. B. Yeats
Posted by: Hugh Clary (---.denver-01rh15-16rt.co.dial-access.att.net)
Date: January 04, 2005 12:52PM

I would agree, with pride being synonymous with 'lacking humility'.

I believe Yeats revisited several of his earlier works in later years. Here is another one, Lamentation of the Old Pensioner (1890 & 1925):


I had a chair at every hearth,
When no one turned to see
With "Look at the old fellow there,
And who may he be?"

And therefore do I wander now,
And the fret lies on me.
The roadside trees keep murmuring--
Ah, wherefore murmur ye

As in the old days long gone by,
Green oak and poplar tree?
The well-known faces are all gone
And the fret lies on me.

----------------------------------------

Although I shelter from the rain
Under a broken tree
My chair was nearest to the fire
In every company
That talked of love or politics,
Ere Time transfigured me.

Though lads are making pikes again
For some conspiracy,
And crazy rascals rage their fill
At human tyranny,
My contemplations are of Time
That has transfigured me.

There's not a woman turns her face
Upon a broken tree,
And yet the beauties that I loved
Are in my memory;
I spit into the face of Time
That has transfigured me.


Re: The Sorrow of Love, W. B. Yeats
Posted by: Desi (---.adsl.proxad.net)
Date: January 04, 2005 12:52PM

yup, but if her proudness is compared with that of Priam, Priam must have been well known for his pride. Otherwise it would be like saying,

she had a skin as white as the sea.

which wouldn't make much sense.

And now back to my question, if Priam was not called proud in the Illiad, who was the first writer to call him so? It is just curiosity. Nothing serious.


Re: The Sorrow of Love, W. B. Yeats
Posted by: lg (---.ca.charter.com)
Date: January 04, 2005 01:02PM

who was the first writer to call him so?

Yeats.


Les


Re: The Sorrow of Love, W. B. Yeats
Posted by: Desi (---.adsl.proxad.net)
Date: January 04, 2005 01:12PM

no. Robert Buchanan beat him to it. See the link for the entire text:

[www.lib.rochester.edu] />
I.

Ah, lawless love -- Ah reinless lust,
The evil ye have done!
Ye laid proud Priam's domes in dust,
And Priam's glorious son.
The giant judge of Israel,
By you the Ethnic's scorn,
In blindness and in bondage fell,
And ground Philistian corn.
Through you nigh lost in impious war
A brother's race hath been,
At Gibeah, and Baal-Tamar --
The seed of Benjamin.
And ye have soiled with sinful blood
A peerless knight renown'd,
And wrecked the noble brotherhood
Of Arthur's Table Round!


Re: The Sorrow of Love, W. B. Yeats
Posted by: lg (---.ca.charter.com)
Date: January 04, 2005 01:17PM

who was the first writer to call him so?

Desi, if you already knew the answer, why ask the question?



Les


Re: The Sorrow of Love, W. B. Yeats
Posted by: Marty (---.247.72.102.up.mi.chartermi.net)
Date: January 04, 2005 01:26PM

Can we say that he is not necessarily calling Priam proud? He is saying that the girl was AS proud as Priam. It could mean having LITTLE pride as well as MUCH pride as Priam. Like one could say someone was as white as night.....meaning they weren't white at all.

And as Les had pointed out, in poetry, words are used in different ways for effect. Heck! Sometimes they are just used for the heck of it.

And as Hugh pointed out, there are different meanings and uses for the word....being proud can be "puffed up" or relay a negative connotation.......Proud can be feeling good about someone like a father being proud of his child's accomplishment......Pride can be negative when it stands in the way of something.....or pride can be positive like taking pride in one's work, home, etc.

Marty


Re: The Sorrow of Love, W. B. Yeats
Posted by: Marty (---.247.72.102.up.mi.chartermi.net)
Date: January 04, 2005 01:56PM

She was testing you, Les. LOL.


Re: The Sorrow of Love, W. B. Yeats
Posted by: Marty (---.247.72.102.up.mi.chartermi.net)
Date: January 04, 2005 02:16PM

It is interesting that Yeats has done this with his works, although I believe it to be a natural stage in life (retirement age) to reflect back on one's life.
The thing that sort of gets me about the first one of these two, is he writes as if he is talking about an older man. "I HAD a chair at every hearth...." and he even makes reference to "old fellow". If he was born in 1865 and wrote this in 1890, that would make him 25 years old when he wrote it. Was he talking about someone else, or just writing a poem for the sake of its poetry?

Marty


Re: The Sorrow of Love, W. B. Yeats
Posted by: Desi (---.adsl.proxad.net)
Date: January 04, 2005 02:26PM

Les,

I do not know if he was the first one. It is just an example (the only one I could find) of someone who called priam proud before.

The thing is, proud priam sounds very classic. Most of the people in the Illiad had a certain phrase name. Like swift-footed Achilles and cow-eyed Hera. This is called an epithet. It is often used completely out of context, and it is widely assumed that it helped the reader to get a couple of extra seconds to come up with the next line, or help a bit with the metre.

So my first assumption was, that this one was the one for priam. But I checked it and it wasn't.

Marty,

"can we say that he is not necessarily calling Priam proud? He is saying that the girl was AS proud as Priam. It could mean having LITTLE pride as well as MUCH pride as Priam. Like one could say someone was as white as night.....meaning they weren't white at all."

Like you say, calling someone white as night is obvious. Not white at all. So the only way Yeats could have used this "epithet" for Priam trying to say she was not proud at all, it would have had to be widely known that Priam was not proud. On the contrary, he would have to be well-known for his modesty. I don't think he was or is. So, I think he is calling the girl proud here. In what meaning, positive or negative, I leave up to you. But, I like your reasoning. Don't take anything for granted.


Re: The Sorrow of Love, W. B. Yeats
Posted by: lg (---.ca.charter.com)
Date: January 04, 2005 03:08PM

I think he is calling the girl proud here

He was a king, how could he be a girl?


Les


Re: The Sorrow of Love, W. B. Yeats
Posted by: JohnnySansCulo (---.nycmny83.covad.net)
Date: January 04, 2005 03:17PM

Chariot Wheel keep on turning
Proud Priam keep on burning !


Re: The Sorrow of Love, W. B. Yeats
Posted by: lg (---.ca.charter.com)
Date: January 04, 2005 03:34PM

I think chariots were Roman, Johnny.
This guy was Greek.

Les


Re: The Sorrow of Love, W. B. Yeats
Posted by: Desi (---.adsl.proxad.net)
Date: January 04, 2005 03:42PM

no, he wasn't greek. He was trojan and the greeks fought against the trojans. And according to the Aeneid by Virgil, the trojans are the ancestors of the Romans.

Also the trojans did have chariots:

From the iliad:
"On this he laid the two lambs on his chariot and took his seat. He
gathered the reins in his hand, and Antenor sat beside him; the two
then went back to Ilius. "

"The old man trembled as he heard, but bade his followers yoke the
horses, and they made all haste to do so. He mounted the chariot,
gathered the reins in his hand, and Antenor took his seat beside him;
they then drove through the Scaean gates on to the plain. When they
reached the ranks of the Trojans and Achaeans they left the chariot,
and with measured pace advanced into the space between the hosts."


Re: The Sorrow of Love, W. B. Yeats
Posted by: lg (---.ca.charter.com)
Date: January 04, 2005 03:52PM

I stand corrected, Desi.

But I thought Helen of Troy was a Greek, no?

[en.wikipedia.org] />
[en.wikipedia.org] />

Les

p.s. Johnny, please don't tell me she was a Turkey!



Post Edited (01-04-05 14:56)


Re: The Sorrow of Love, W. B. Yeats
Posted by: JohnnySansCulo (---.nycmny83.covad.net)
Date: January 04, 2005 04:05PM

She WAS Helenistic !


Re: The Sorrow of Love, W. B. Yeats
Posted by: lg (---.ca.charter.com)
Date: January 04, 2005 04:11PM

Which is better than Hell 'n wheels.

Les


Re: The Sorrow of Love, W. B. Yeats
Posted by: Desi (---.adsl.proxad.net)
Date: January 04, 2005 04:38PM

Yes, helen of troy was greek, and kidnapped (maybe willingly though) by paris, the youngest son of Priamos. It was used as an excuse to start a war against the mighty Trojans.


Re: The Sorrow of Love, W. B. Yeats
Posted by: Desi (---.adsl.proxad.net)
Date: January 04, 2005 04:40PM

The greeks still call themselves hellens by the way, and the country hellas. Apperently, the name greek and greece used to be a kind of insult. And it got stuck abroad.


Re: The Sorrow of Love, W. B. Yeats
Posted by: Marty (---.247.72.102.up.mi.chartermi.net)
Date: January 04, 2005 05:53PM

Boy, I just returned to this conversation, and besides LMAO at Johnny's hilarious quips, I'm astounded at how smart desi turned out to be (you little rascal). You were making me feel worthy of participating for a while there, with your repeated question about; who called Priam proud first? I was ready to go into a "who's on first" routine or scream ENOUGH ALREADY.......who really cares! Now I see there was a method to your madness. Good for you. You go girl! Seriously, I don't have the slightest clue about Priam, but I'm wheel'n to learn. Very interesting stuff!

And Les, you also made me feel better (and chuckle) with your comment about how a king could be a girl. At least I'm not the only one who doesn't read everything thoroughly.

Marty


Re: The Sorrow of Love, W. B. Yeats
Posted by: lg (---.ca.charter.com)
Date: January 04, 2005 06:02PM

Marty, Desi doesn't come here often, so we have to make her feel welcome, even if it is at the expense of the Greeks.

Les


Re: The Sorrow of Love, W. B. Yeats
Posted by: ns (202.88.172.---)
Date: January 05, 2005 12:41AM

I believe Yeats revisited several of his earlier works in later years. Here is another one, Lamentation of the Old Pensioner (1890 & 1925):

This really helps - to learn the difference between good and very good.

Just gave this poem a quick read. Beautiful.

The "ands" have it in my book. When read aloud, they not only don't seem cumbersome, but give a sense of sorrowful longing......not exactly urgency or desperation...but a melodious longing for love.
I enjoyed reading your thoughts on this, Marty.
It helps to realise the dangers of looking at things too technically and forgetting the human aspect.

I thought he must have re written this because he felt he had grown as a poet, but as Marty points out perhaps by then his feelings had also changed. So although there are many improved poetic devices in the latter version, there is also evidence that a different man, more embittered, is trying to say what he wanted to all those years ago. Except that he can't because he is not the same.



Post Edited (01-05-05 02:50)




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