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Grandjean's Appeal - A Poetic Coda

Tuesday, November 1, 2022 - 07:00

I don't think I was aware of the poem as a part of this record until I was processing and proofreading the text in preparation for the translation. The edition I first began working with didn't include it, and it was only when I was proofing certain unclear items against the other edition that I realized this one major difference. As a work of emotional expression and fiction, it fills in some of the gaps in our speculations about how French society of the time might have viewed and understood Grandjean. It also offers evidence on some points I speculated on, such as Legrand's motivations in outing Grandjean. At least one person--the poet--also thinks it was out of jealousy. But in general it would be a mistake to think that the poem offers factual information on the case, rather than reflecting the popular imagination.

Major category: 
Full citation: 

Vermeil. 1765. Mémoire pour Anne Grandjean. Louis Cellot, Paris.

Publication summary: 

The original text, translation, and commentary on the appeal record of Anne Grandjean against a charge of "profaning the sacrament of marriage" by marrying a woman.

The Poem

{The following material appears in the longer edition only.}






Nec duo sunt, sed forma duplex; nec femina dici,

Nec puer ut possit, nec utrumque & utrumque videtur.

Ovid. Metam.







Nec duo sunt, sed forma duplex; nec femina dici,

Nec puer ut possit, nec utrumque & utrumque videtur.

Ovid. Metam.

{HRJ: The quotation from Ovid’s Metamorphoses is from the tale of Hermaphroditus, at the point when he merges with the nymph who loved him: “They are not two, but the form is double, so it can be called neither woman nor boy, it appears like both and neither.” The following verse “letter” must be understood as a complete fiction, created to add pathos and additional interest to sell the publication. And, in fact, the following dedication makes it clear that this is a poet’s attempt to express what they imagine Grandjean’s feelings might have been. I have no clue to the identity of the poet or the woman the poet dedicates this to. It's unclear what meaning to place on Grandjean being identified as "Anne" in the title. While the author of the legal appeal primarily uses masculine language for Grandjean, he mostly avoids refering to Grandjean by given name, normally using the surname as I have done. My instinct is to consider it unlikely that the lawyer is also the author of this poem, but I don't know that the use of "Anne" is evidence in that direction. And as the poem uses a first person voice, we only see the poet's attitude toward Grandjean's gender expressed through Grandjean's only point of view. I have done scarcely any editing of the translation of the poem offered up by Deep-L, neither to turn it into more idioimatic English nor to attempt to turn it into better poetry. The poem is melodramatic, full of classical allusions, torn between fantasies of happiness and the agony of despair. And it's a testament to the longstanding uneasy partnership between factual news and entertainment. Whether the poem was originally circulated independently as a broadside and then bound in with the trial record, or whether it was written specifically to enhance the saleability of the legal document, we can only guess. Someone more expert in French publishing practices of the time could make more educated guesses. In a way, the poem ties this document back even more strongly to the underlying purpose of the Lesbian Historic Motif Project: the imaginative use of historical fact to envision fictionalized lives of queer people in the past.}


C'EST l'amour qui le premier m'a dicté des Verse c'est vous qui en avez eu le premier hommage: daignez y joindre celui que je vous offre aujourd'ui, une Piece que je confie à la Presse; c'est un tribut que je dois à l'aprobation que vous avez déja eu la bonté d’y donner. Si je suis parvenu à paindre l'Amour, c'est à vous : que j'en ai l'obligation; je l'ai peint comme vous me le faites sentir.

J’ai l’honneur d’être,

Votre très-humble Serviteur,



It is love which first dictated Poetry to me, it is you who had the first homage of it: deign to join to it that which I offer you today, a Piece which I entrust to the Press; it is a tribute which I owe to the approval which you have already had the goodness to give to it. If I have succeeded in painting Love, it is to you that I owe it; I have painted it as you make me feel it.

I have the honor to be,

Your most humble servant,


{HRJ: I will not comment extensively on the poem itself. Unlike the legal text, which I have edited and smoothed out for sense, I haven’t attempted to do much editing of the poetry. So this is an extremely literal translation, all courtesy of Deep-L. Within the scope of poetic imagery, it generally makes sense. The speaker recounts the events of the trial, bemoans their fate, briefly fantasizes about running away to the wilderness to live happily with their wife, then abandons that dream and descends into despair. I like that the poet imagined the possibility of scorning the verdict of the court and keeping the couple together. That’s my private head-cannon.}









QUEL jour affreux me luit ? Quelle horrible lumiere,
D'un rayon accablant vient frapper ma paupierre?
Dans quel triste neant mon Etre est il plongé?
Comme en un seul instant, pour moi tout a changé!
Proscrit, défavoué, rebut de la Nature;
Mon Etre est un opprobre & mon nom une injure.

WHAT dreadful day is shining on me? What horrible light,
Of a damning ray comes to strike my eyelid?
In what sad nothingness is my Being plunged?
How in a single instant, for me all has changed!
Outcast, disowned, Nature's reject;
My Being is a disgrace and my name an insult.

O toi, funeste objet d'un amour malheureux
Toi, dont l'attachement avoit combié mes vœux,
Du plus cruel destin Compagne infortunée,
Au malheur de mes jours, par l'Amour enchaînée,
Ma famme.... j'ose encor t'appeller de ce nom...
Viens calmer les transports qui troublent ma raison,
Tu peux, en partagent l'horreur qui me comsume {sic},
Des pleurs que je répands adoucir l'amertume.
Lis ces traits incertains qu'a tracé ma douleur:
Connais le trouble affreux qui déchire mon coeur.

O you, fatal object of an unhappy love
You, whose attachment had combined my vows,
Of the most cruel destiny Unfortunate companion,
To the misfortune of my days, by Love chained,
My family.... I still dare to call you by this name...
Come to calm the transports which disturb my reason,
You can, by sharing the horror which consumes me,
You can soften the bitterness of the tears I shed.
Read these uncertain lines that my pain has traced:
Know the terrible trouble that tears my heart.

Objet infortuné de la fureur céleste,
Je partage à regret le jour que je déteste.
Tout ce qui m'environne est ligué contre moi:
L'homme, en m’appercevant, recule avec effroi:
La femme me méprise, & malgré mon hommage,
La Nature à mes yeux rougit de son ouvrage.
Chacun de me haïr s'est imposé la Loi,
Ah ! dans mon désepoir, je n'ai récours qu'à toi.
Je sens que ton nom seul appaise mes allarmes.
Revole dans mes bras; viens essuyer mes larmes.
Aime moi .... Souviens-toi que je fus ton époux;
Que j'ai porté long-tems ce nom si saint, si doux …
J'en jouirais encor sans la lueur fatale
Qu'a porté sur nos feux une indigne Rivale.
Hélas ! quand de ses bras je volai dans les tiens,
Quand l'Amour nous unit des plus tendres liens,
Aurais-je présumé qu'elle se fut vengée
En publiant l'excès de sa flamme outragée;
Que, d'un sexe timide oubliant la pudeur,
N'écoutant que la voix d'une indiscrette ardeur;
Elle aurait déchiré, par un rapport coupable,
Des secrets de l'Hymen, le voile respectable;
Et que sur mon état plus instruite que moi,
Elle m'aurait fait voir indigne de ta foi.

Unfortunate object of the celestial fury,
I regretfully share the day I hate.
All that surrounds me is united against me:
The man, by apperceiving me, recoils with fear:
The woman despises me, and in spite of my homage,
Nature in my eyes blushes at her work.
Each one to hate me has imposed the Law on himself,
Ah! in my despair, I have recourse only to you.
I feel that your name alone appeals to my alarms.
Come back into my arms; come to wipe my tears.
Love me .... Remember that I was your husband;
That I have long borne this name so holy, so sweet...
I would still enjoy it without the fatal glow
That an unworthy rival has cast on our fires.
Alas! when from her arms I flew in yours,
When love united us with the most tender bonds,
Would I have presumed that she was avenged
By publishing the excess of her outraged flame;
That, of a timid sex forgetting the modesty,
Listening only to the voice of an indiscreet ardour;
She would have torn, by a guilty report,
Of the secrets of the Hymen, the respectable veil;
And that on my state more informed than me,
She would have made me see unworthy of your faith.

Nous vivions tous les deux, sans nulle defiance,
Dans cette douce paix que donne l'Innocence.
L'Amour & la Vertu dirigeaint notre cœur
Dans les sentiers étroits qui menent au bonheur,
Jamais nous n'avions vû la Discorde indocile
Par son flambeau cruel, allarmer notre asile.

We both lived, without any defiance,
In that sweet peace which Innocence gives.
Love and virtue directed our hearts
In the narrow paths that lead to happiness,
Never had we seen the indocile Discord
With its cruel torch, to light our asylum.

Aussi-tôt que l'Aurore avait doré les Cieux,
Que ses premiers rayons venaient frapper nos yeux,
À la Divinité dont nous sommes l'image,
Nous portions à genous un légitime hommage,
Et d'un travail honnête employant le secours,
Nous bénissions la main qui veillait sur nos jours;
Et dès que la Nuit sombre, amenant les ténèbres,
Déployait les ressorts de ses voiles funèbres,
Un modeste repas, apprêté par ta main,
Servait, moins à flatter, qu'à calmer notre faim :
Mais bien-tôt le sommeil fermant notre paupiere,
Nous forçait à chercher un repos salutaire
Qui pût nous délaffer des fatigues du jour :
Nous cherchions le repos .... & nous trouvions l'amour
Unis étroitement, les plus vives caresses
Signalaient chaque jours nos égales tendresses.
O Ciel! aurais-je crû dans des momens si doux,
Que je n'étais pas fait pour être ton époux ?
Aurais-je pû penser que l'aveugle Nature
Ne m'offrait du bonheur que la vaine imposture…
Je croyais des humains être le plus heureux;
Hélas ! & mon destin était le plus affreux.

As soon as the dawn had gilded the skies,
That its first rays came to strike our eyes,
To the Divinity whose image we are,
We kneel down to pay a legitimate homage,
And from honest work employing the help,
We blessed the hand that watched over our days;
And as soon as the dark Night, bringing darkness,
Unfurled the springs of its dark veils,
A modest meal, prepared by your hand,
Served, less to flatter, than to calm our hunger:
But soon sleep closed our eyelids,
Forced us to seek a salutary rest
Which could relieve us of the day's labors:
We sought rest .... And we found love
United closely, the most vivid caresses
Signaled each day our equal tenderness.
O Heavens! would I have believed in such sweet moments,
That I was not made to be your husband?
Could I have thought that blind Nature
Offered me only the vain imposture of happiness...
I thought I was the happiest of humans;
Alas! & my destiny was the most dreadful.

Le Ciel, dont j'implorais la faveur tutélere,
Ne m'avoit point encore accordé d'ètre pere.
C'était le seul objet qui manquait à mes yeux;
J'a cru qu'il différait ce moment précieux.

Heaven, whose tutelary favor I implored,
Had not yet granted me to be a father.
It was the only object which missed in my eyes;
I believed that it postponed this precious moment.

Mais quel spectable horrible à mes yeux se présente ?
Que veulent ces Archers ?... Cette troupe sanglante?
Sur qui va donc tomber leur courroux menaçant ?
Ils poursuivent le crime, & je suis innocent.
Quoi ! je suis dans leurs fers !.. C'est moi... moment terrible!
Pourquoi ? Qu'ai-ję donc fait? O Ciel! Est-il possible?
Eh quoi ! vous me privez de la clarté des Cieux....
Quel est donc cet asyle ? Un cachot ténébreux.
Arrêtez & craignez la céleste vengeance,
Barbares: Est-ce ainsi qu'on traite l'Innocence ?
Mais je revois le jour, & c'est pour êttre admis
Dans cet auguste Temple oú préside Thémis.
Ah ! je sens dans mon cœur renaître l'espéranse...
Quelle troupe nouvelle en ce moment s'avance ?
Ils proménent sur moi leurs regads curieux.
Quel honteux examen ! Rien n'est sacré pour eux.
Cruels.! Quoi ! Vous osez, outrageant la Nature
Sur ses secrets trahis mettre une main impure.
Quel mystère odieux, votre œil veut-il percer?
Qu'entends-je ? Quel Arrêt osent-ils prononcer !
Je ne suis plus qu'un monstre, un composé bizare,
Des jeux de la Nature exemple affreux & rare,
Un mortel anonime, un être infortuné,
Qui ne doit qu'éprouver le malheur d'être né!

But what a horrible spectacle to my eyes is presented?
What do these Archers want?... This bloody troop?
On whom will their threatening wrath fall?
They pursue crime, and I am innocent.
What! I am in their irons!... It's me... terrible moment!
Why? What have I done? Oh Heaven! Is it possible?
What! you deprive me of the brightness of the Heavens ....
What is this asylum? A dark dungeon.
Stop & fear the celestial vengeance,
Barbarians: is this how they treat Innocence?
But I see the day again, and it is to be admitted
In this august Temple where Themis presides.
Ah! I feel in my heart the revival of hope...
What new troop at this moment advances?
They walk on me their curious regards.
What a shameful examination! Nothing is sacred for them.
Cruel! What! You dare, outraging Nature
On her betrayed secrets to put an impure hand.
What odious mystery does your eye want to pierce?
What do I hear? What stop do they dare to pronounce!
I am no more than a monster, a bizarre compound,
Of Nature's games, an awful and rare example,
An unloved mortal, an unfortunate being,
Who must only experience the misfortune of being born!

Mais ce n'est point assez, & le Sort qui m'opprime
Aux plus sanglans affronts veut joindre encor le crime:
J'ai profané, dit-on, les fermens les plus saints,
Et l'on doit m'en punir. Des Juges inhumains,
A l'opprobre, au supplice ont condamné ma vie,
Arrêtez, rendez-moi ma liberté ravie;
Suis-je donc criminel ? ... Vous dédaignez ma voix,
Et vous m'assassinez avec le fer de Loix:
Eh bien, il est un Temple augufte, respectable;
L'innocence у rencontre un appui sécourable;
Le coupable y frémit; Sur le trône des Lys,
Sous les traits d'un mortel, on reconnoit Thémis.
On n'y voit point la Brigue emporter la balance,
Et sous le poids de l'or, écraser l'innocence:
Et, suivant de ses feux les transport indiscrets,

But it is not enough, & the Fate which oppresses me
To the most bloody affronts wants to join again the crime:
I profaned, they say, the most holy close,(?)
And I must be punished for it. Inhuman judges,
To opprobrium and torment have condemned my life,
Stop, give me back my freedom;
Am I a criminal? ... You despise my voice,
And you murder me with the iron of the law:
Well, there is an august, respectable Temple;
Innocence meets a securitized support;
The guilty one shudders there; On the throne of the Lilies,
Under the features of a mortal, one recognizes Themis.
One does not see there the Brig to carry away the balance,
And under the weight of gold, crush innocence:
And, following the indiscreet transports with her fires,

Jamais la passion n'y dicta des Arrêts.
Le fanatisme obscur, l'infâme calomnie,
Y sentent s'émousser les traits de leur furie.
C'est là que je remets mon déplorable sort :
J'y trouverai sans doute, ou ma grace, ou ma mort.

Passion never dictated any judgments.
Obscure fanaticism, infamous slander,
Feel the bluntness of their fury.
It is there that I hand over my deplorable fate:
I will undoubtedly find there, or my grace, or my death.

Mon espoir est fondé, j'y trouve la justice,
Et j'échappe en tramblant aux horreurs du supplice,
Je n'irai point, Public, méchamment curieux,
D'un spectacle infâmant rassasier tes yeux,

My hope is founded, I find justice,
And I escape the horrors of torment,
I will not, Public, wickedly curious,
To satiate your eyes with an infamous spectacle,

Mais quel nouveau revers vient m'accabler encore!.
Il faut me séparer de celle que j'adore.
Un Arrêt tout puissant m'en impose la Loi,
Et l'amour d'un Epoux est un affront pour toi.
Nos liens sont rompus ... ils sont illégitimes.
Eh quoi ! sans le sçavoir on commet donc des crimes ?

But what a new setback comes to overwhelm me again!
I must separate myself from the one I adore.
An all powerful Decree imposes me the Law,
And the love of a spouse is an affront to you.
Our bonds are broken ... they are illegitimate.
What! without knowing it, one thus commits crimes?

Pourras-tu bien souscrire à cet Arrêt cruel
Hélas ! rappelle-toi ce ferment solemnel
Qui nous unit tous deux aux pieds du Sanctuaire....
Ce qu'a fait l'Eternel l'homme ose le défaire !
Eh bien, suis-moi : Fuyons ces Etres dangereux,
Puisqu'on est criminel en vivant avec eux,
Vils esclaves des Loix, qu'a fait leur barbarie,
La Nature elle-même éprouve leur furię.
Laissons-les s'accabler sous leurs vains préjugés,
Et porter lâchement les fers qu'ils ont forgés.
Fuyons dans ces déserts où la Nature expire :
Ils sont inhabités, mais l'air qu'on y respire
N'est point empoisonné par le soufflé odieux
De ces Humains cruels qui condamnet nos nœuds.
Le Ciel qui nous forma, qui porta dans notre ame,
Ces élans mutuels du feu qui nous enflamme,
Veillera sur nos jours : nos liens sont sacrés;
Pourquoi, s'il l'offensaient, les aurait-il ferrés ?
Viens; ces autres obscurs, ces mouts inaccessibles,
Ces rochers a nos yeux deviendront moins terribles;
Nos soins & notre amour sçauront les embellir.
Tu verras l'Aquilon chassé par le zéphir,
Les neiges, en torrens, s'écouler dans les plaines,
La chaleur du midi réchauffer nos halaines,
E la Nature enfin, sensible à nos revers,
Créer à nos désirs un nouvel Univers.
Nous en jouirons seuls : Ces mortels sanguinaires
Qui jugent la Nature & percent ses mystères,
Ne viendront plus troubler l'union de nos cours :
Dieu seul éclairera nos fidelles ardeurs;
Sa main dirigera nos ames bien heureuses
Loin du joug accablant des ces Loix orgueilleuses
Que l'Homme impofe à l'homme, & qui, par le trépas
Etonnent l'Univers & ne le changent pas.
Nos jours s'écouleront au sein de la Tendresse;
Chaque jour, chaque instant, l'Amour & son ivresse
Porteront dans nos cœurs leurs charmes bienfaisans.
Le plafir unira deux Epoux, deux Amans,
Nos baisers .... Qu'as-tu dit? Ah, malheureux arrête !
Vois le Ciel courroucé qui menace ta tête ...
Quels souhaits formes-tu?... Dan ton état affreux,
Oses-tu te livrer à de coupables vœux ?
Tu prétends que le Ciel devenu plus propice,
Répandu sur les feux sa faveur protectrice
Rentre dans ton néant : Connois-toi … Tu frémis?
Un espoir si flatteur peut-il t'être permis !
Avant de voir sur toi la Vérité paroître,
Si tu fus innocent, tu vas cesser de l'être;
Et ces lâches desirs que tu viens de former
Sont autant de forfaits que tu dois expier:

Will you be able to subscribe to this cruel ruling
Alas! remember this solemn ferment
That unites us both at the feet of the Sanctuary ....
What the Eternal has done, man dares to undo!
Well, follow me: let us flee these dangerous Beings,
Since one is criminal by living with them,
Vile slaves of the Laws, that their barbarity has made,
Nature herself feels their fury.
Let them weigh themselves down under their vain prejudices,
And cowardly wear the irons they have forged.
Let us flee to these deserts where Nature expires:
They are uninhabited, but the air we breathe
Is not poisoned by the odious breath
Of these cruel Humans who condemn our knots.
The Heaven that formed us, that carried in our soul
These mutual impulses of the fire that ignites us,
Will watch over our days: our bonds are sacred;
Why, if they offended Him, would He have shod them?
Come; these other dark, inaccessible moors,
These rocks to our eyes will become less terrible;
Our care and our love will be able to embellish them.
You will see Aquilon chased by the zephyr,
The snows, in torrents, will flow in the plains,
The heat of the south warm our breaths,
And Nature at last, sensitive to our setbacks,
To create a new universe for our desires.
We shall enjoy it alone: These bloodthirsty mortals
Who judge Nature and pierce her mysteries,
Will no longer disturb the union of our courses:
God alone will enlighten our faithful ardor;
His hand will direct our happy souls
Far from the oppressive yoke of these proud laws
That man imposes on man, and which, by death
Surprise the universe and do not change it.
Our days will pass in the bosom of Tenderness;
Every day, every moment, Love and its intoxication
Will carry in our hearts their beneficial charms.
The Heavens will unite two Spouses, two Lovers,
Our kisses .... What did you say? Ah, unhappy stop!
See the wrathful Heaven that threatens your head...
What wishes do you form?... In your terrible state,
Dare you indulge in guilty wishes?
You pretend that Heaven has become more propitious,
Spreading its protective favor over the fires
Goes back to your nothingness: Know thyself... Do you shudder?
Can such a flattering hope be allowed to you!
Before seeing the Truth appear on you,
If you were innocent, you will cease to be so;
And these cowardly desires that you have just formed
Are so many crimes that you must expiate:

Quoi ! lorsque dans mes sens que le desir consume,
La flamme la plus forte, à chaque instant s'allume;
Quand je sens tous les feux du plus ardent amour
Brûler & déchirer mon ame tour-à-tour;
Quand mon cœur entraîné par la Loi la plus douce,
Suit l'instinct séducteur qui l'agite & le pousse;
Et que par la Nature au plaisir animé;
Il cherche avec transport l'objet qui l'a charmé;
Ce cœur est criminel! ...O Nature barbare !
Ton instinct nous unit & ta Loi nous séparé...
Ah ! lorsque tu formas les fragiles ressorts
Dont ta main créatrice a composé mon corps,
Devais-tu, négligeant ta rare prévoyence,
Si loin de mes desirs attacher ma puissance,
Et me donner un cœur & des sens superflus,
Pour me faire chercher un bonheur qui n'est plus.

What! when in my senses that the desire consumes,
The strongest flame, at every moment, ignites;
When I feel all the fires of the most ardent love
Burn and tear my soul in turn;
When my heart, driven by the sweetest law,
Follows the seductive instinct that stirs it and pushes it;
And that by Nature to pleasure animated;
It seeks with transport the object which charmed it;
This heart is criminal! ...O barbaric Nature!
Your instinct unites us & your Law separates us...
Ah! when you formed the fragile springs
Of which your creative hand composed my body,
Should you, neglecting your rare foresight,
So far from my desires to attach my power,
And give me a superfluous heart and senses,
To make me seek a happiness that is no more.

Reprends ces dons cruels que ma fait ta colere;
Ces dons qui m'ont rendu l'opprobre de la Terre.
Termine d'un seul mot mon déplorable sort.
Tu le peux.... Comme un bien je recevrai la mort
Hélas ! de tes faveurs ce fera la plus grande.
Tu soihaites la mort? Ta bouche la demande,
Malheureux, l'oses-tu ? le Ciel est ton appui.
Quoi tu peux l'accuser quand tu dépens de lui?
Sçais-tu qu'il doit punir ta criminelle audace?
Obéis en silence, & mérite ta grace.
S'il a frappé ton cœur par des coups trop cruels;
Adore ses décretes.... c'est le sort des mortels.

Take back these cruel gifts that your anger gave me;
These gifts which made me the disgrace of the Earth.
End with a single word my deplorable fate.
You can.... As a good I will receive death
Alas! of your favours it will be the greatest.
You wish death? Your mouth asks it,
Unhappy, do you dare? Heaven is your support.
What you can accuse him when you spend of him?
Do you know that He must punish your criminal audacity?
Obey in silence, and deserve your grace.
If he struck your heart with too cruel blows;
Adore his decrees.... it is the fate of the mortals.

J'obéis. Toi qui lis ces tristes caracteres,
Du trouble de mes sens affreux dépositeres;
Toi qui fis mon bonheur.... Que je n'ose nommer;
Que mon malheureux sort m'a défendu d'aimer;
Pour qui .. c'en est assez... fuis :.. Mon ardeur t'outrage.
L'Amour est fait pour toi, la honte est mon partage.
Va, fuis... je vais traîner le reste de mes jours
Loin de l'œil des mortels.... Le Ciel est mon recours.
Puissent-ils oublier ma déplorable Histoire :
Toi seule, souviens-toi que j'avois mis ma gloire
A chérir tes Vertus, à t'aimer... O douleurs !
Adieu !... Sur cet Ecrit verse au moins quelques pleurs,

I obey. You who read these sad characters,
Of the trouble of my terrible senses;
You who made my happiness.... Whom I dare not name;
That my unhappy fate forbade me to love;
For whom... it is enough... flee: My ardour outrages you.
Love is made for you, shame is my share.
Go, flee... I will drag the rest of my days
Far from the eye of the mortals .... Heaven is my recourse.
May they forget my deplorable History:
You alone, remember that I had put my glory
To cherish your virtues, to love you... O pains!
Farewell!... On this writing pours at least some tears,



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