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Towards a visual Typology of Peace : 'A Grammar of Suggestions'

(Editors note: this typology was developed from original lists in ‘Places of Peace’ a booklet published in 1989 and funded by the movement ‘Architects for Peace’. The principal author was John McKean)

Buildings and landscape furnishing
McKean suggest that any of the following structures might make appropriate buildings in a ‘Place for Peace’:

Seating Arbour. An arbour of delight; arbour of peace; seat of meditation; seat of friendship and love.
Garden Pavilion. A pavilion of peace; ornamental building; decorative detailing on peace theme.
Garden Shelter. Place of sanctuary and rest; refuge from storm and tempest; haven and asylum; symbol for inner security.
Garden Temple. Temple of peace; temple of light; temple of truth; temple of perpetual sun; temple of the four domains of man.
Shrine. Hallowed place of special association; shrine of peace; shrine of harmonies.
Play House. Children’s house; Wendy house; house of friendship; “love thy neighbour as thyself” house; (Nyokodo House in Hiroshima).
Pagoda. Peace pagoda (symbolic and richly emblematic) prayer pagoda; spiritual focus; sacred place.
Conservatory. Refuge and nurture for tender plants; exotics; container grown species for seasonal placing; develop symbolic associations.
Information Centre Building. Peace education and peace information/display; information updating exhibitions; video. local group/talent involvement.
Public Forum. Free and formal speech; performance arts.

He further suggests that a number of the following might make appropriate additions:

Stone Lanterns. Sculptural and functional form; Japanese association.
Inscribed Tablets. Inscription of poetry, prose, meaningful quotation, in metal or stone. (Into paving, ramp or wall.)
Pictorial Peace Symbols. Shape or inscription inset into paving, ramp or wall. Shapes of paving/planting.
Abstract Stone Grouping. Symbolic of friendship. Japanese association.
Bridge/Causeway/Stepping Stones/Pathway (of; to; for etc) e.g. bridge of understanding, pathways for peace etc.
Peace Bell/Gong (Japanese association).
Beacon. Eternal flame/occasional commemorative flame.
Flag Pole(s). United Nations; internationalism; One World.
Personal Identification. Visitors and foundation register; names cut or formed in elements of paving/edge trim; area of soft rock for personal inscribed signature (channelled graffiti).
Rock Garden.
Stone Circle. Maze.
Barren Tract. Desert; ashes (for remembrance).
Shadow on a Rock. (Hiroshima association).
Planting. (see Planting Forms; see Meanings of Trees, shrubs, Flowers).
Dovecote. Living presence of white doves in peace landscape.
Information Centre. Peace/disarmament whole world education dissemination facility.
Descriptive and name signs. Public relations and communication indicating purposes.

McKean also suggests themes and motifs for possible sculptures:

Swords into ploughshares or modern equivalent; conversion principle.
Subjugation of the symbols of Violence. Art history precedents; today’s image might be dancing women ravelling in their mastery over missile silos (as at Greenham Common).
Peace Child. Childlike simplicity/wisdom; child intervention in political arena resolving and clarifying causes of conflict.
Cradling the Plant. Cherishing the Earth and its peoples.
Universal Peace. The globe in representative form inscribed PEACE in its myriad languages and symbols.
Globe as symbol of Peace. The continents re-fashioned in relief in the form of flying doves or other suitable symbol.
Ringing the World with Peace.
(a) flights of doves encircling the planet;
(b) Human-chain hand in hand surrounding the globe.
The Choice. Split or dual theme showing half the globe bursting with life and fertility…the other half barren, crazed, fragmenting as it bristles with missiles.
Sharing is Caring. Embossed globe with the symbols of abundance and justice equally shared.
Web of Life. All things are in balance and are connected.
Arms are for Linking. Humanity linked in friendship arranged above discarded array of military hardware.
Humanity as Hostage. Symbols of humanity and the human family beneath the shadow and yoke of the mushroom cloud.
Leaf of Life. Sensitive representation of botanical form, unfurling in growth…the symbol of life after Hiroshima.
In Praise of Peace. Human group – arms raised in salutation to the symbol of peace…especially globe suitably adorned…expressive of the longing for world peace.
Not With Our Lives You Don’t. Symbol of the struggle the peace and disarmament movements in an active gesture dismantling the mechanisms of war.
We Won’t Radiate. Struggle to contain the expanding atom; struggle to subdue the heat of the atom; symbols of blood structure; blood count; cell structure.
Friendship. Expressions of love; unity; caring internationalism; the common good.
Children’s Play Form. Play Frame; play space symbolic in form or in use as an expression of peace.
Children’s Subject. Bounteous energy; bubbling laughter; uninhibited joy of life.
Children’s Memorial. Children as the victims of war, of greed, hunger, indifference; children without hope of a future. Tower of a Thousand Cranes is an example from Hiroshima.
Folded Paper Crane. Japanese symbol of Peace since Hiroshima; emblem of hope; of good health, of good recovery.
Beacon/Lantern Sculpture. Permanent or occasional flame; permanent or occasional light source.
Fountains/Water Sculpture. See water themes; water of life; pure abundant water for ever…the imperative of Hiroshima.
Economics of War and Peace. Graphic/Symbolic comparison of funds given to the search for Peace and finance allocated to a research, development and manufacture of the weapons for war, and training for their use.
Bas-relief. Picture language in today’s terms as an additional sculptural expression; ‘hieroglyphics’.

Symbolism of Plants
The traditional meaning and symbolism of plants is discussed at length by McKean and co-authors; here he contrives a list which can be used and revitalised to give a
‘Place for Peace’ giving trees and plants ‘rhetorical meanings which can be read by the literate and enjoyed by everyone’. This typology should be used in conjunction with fuller bibliographies contained on the website.

Trees of particular significance:

Traditionally represents reconciliation and peace.
When, according to classical mythology, all the world was in an uproar and men warred increasingly against men, the Gods took pity and sent Apollo and Hermes, two sons of Zeus, to Earth with gifts. Hermes gave Apollo the tortoiseshell from which he had fashioned a lyre, and received in exchange a hazel rod which had the power to inspire with a love of virtue and to reconcile hearts divided by hatred and envy. Apollo sang of eternal wisdom and the gentle influence of charity towards all men. Then, Hermes touched all with the wand, setting free their tongues and teaching them to express thought in word. He told them that nothing could be obtained from the earth without mutual aid.

This Hazel wand, decorated with two light wings and surrounded by serpents, is the Caduceus, still the symbol of healing, given to the god of eloquence by the god of harmony, to bring both peace and reconciliation.

The World Tree of the Ancients, an all pervading tree in various forms according to tradition or source, whose roots and branches permeate or spread over the whole of the spiritual and earthly world. Or it is seen as the cloud of tree, thought to symbolise Universal Nature. Ash is the greatest and best of all trees, the Cosmogonic Tree of universal life and immortality. The Cloud Ash is an image of the clouds and mother to all men.

Widely held to be sacred, known as the emblem of the Supreme Being and much revered. The Greeks and Romans regarded it as the tree from which the whole human race had sprung. The Celts worshipped the oak, regarding it as the symbol of their most prized virtue, hospitality.

Revered by the Greeks who dedicated the Plane to the spirits who cultivated the pleasures of the mind.

Apple Cedar, Elm, Fig Mulberry, Rowan, Yew and Bo tree are among many other trees separately and especially venerated in the many countries/cultures of the world.

A full list of trees and their traditional connotations:

Acacia. Friendship: chaste love.
Acacia (Rose/Pink/White). Friendship; platonic love; elegance.
Acacia (Yellow; Mimosa). Secret love; sensitiveness.
Almond (Flowering). Hope.
Angelica. Inspiration; gentle melancholy.
Apple. Temptation.
Apple blossom. Fame both great and good.
Apple (Siberian Crab). Deeply interesting.
Arbor-Vitae (American/Chinese) (White Cedar). Live for me; unchanging friendship.
Ash and Weeping Ash. (Olive family) has legendary significance; sacred; cosmogonic universal or world tree; grandeur; best over all else.
Aspen. Lamentation.
Balm of Gilead (populus candicans). Sympathy; cure; relief.
Bay Tree (laurel). Glory.
Beech. Prosperity.
Birch and Weeping Birch. Memorial; meekness.
Birch (Silver). Memorial; gracefulness; lady of the woods.
Blackthorn. Difficulty.
Box. Stoicism.
Cedar. Strength.
Cedar of Lebanon (celebrated and venerated). Fruitfulness; constancy; incorruptible.
Cedar (White). Unchanging friendship.
Cherry. Education; good education.
Cherry (Flowering and Hill Flowering). Spiritual beauty.
Cherry (Weeping). Spring.

In his text McKean gives a lengthy elaboration of the symbolic value of the cherry tree:
    'The Hill Cherry, or Yamazakura, has become in the last 40 years an international symbol of peace and memorial to the victims of the atomic bombs dropped on Japan. It is a Chinese plant (Prunus glandulosa) which probably reached Japan in the 6th or 7th Centuries AD, and Western Europe only in 1774'.
To the Japanese who adopted it as their own, it has traditionally been more than a mere tree; it is an object of veneration. In the words of the great poet Moto-ori, 'If one should ask you, what is the spirit of the Japanese, point to the wild cherry-blossom, shining in the sun.' It is planted in thousands in many parts of Japan, and each spring vast crowds flock to the 'flower-viewing' or 'Hana-mi'. this habit is equally popular in Korea where up to 100,000 people would come to Shotokuen Park in Seoul in a single day to see the cherries in flower. (In this case the Korean variant, Prunus serrulata var. pubescens.)

These notes come from the cherry expert Collingwood Ingram, who travelled extensively in Japan between the wars. In his
Ornamental Cherries (1948) we also find a rare pre-war glimpse of Hiroshima and (as in the following quotation) Nagasaki:

    “My first encounter with this species, the Chinese Bush Cherry, was in Nagasaki, Japan. At the time, I
    was hurrying to rejoin my homeward-bound ship, which was shortly due to sail. As my ricksha boy was
    trotting down one of the narrow streets leading to the harbour, I happened to espy a pretty little bush in
    full flower which seemed unfamiliar to me. Exited by this discovery. I stopped and hastened to the door
    of the unknown house. Upon this I knocked briskly. The Japanese girl who answered my summons was dressed in the white uniform of a nurse. Failing to understand me, she called a man, who was likewise dressed in white medical overall. But he, too, could speak no English, and the situation was rapidly developing into embarrassing impasse, when an idea occurred to me. Donning what I fondly hoped was
    an ingratiating smile, I seized a small sucker in one hand and made pantomimic signs of digging with the other. It worked; and with the assistance of two nurses, and a surgical implement of sorts, we soon succeeded in unearthing a sucker. I have it still; but it has never been really happy in my garden. It lacks completely the grace and healthy charm of its parent – which, no doubt, together with the nursing home,
    the doctor and the two nurses, has since been blown to eternity by the notorious atomic bomb.“

Chestnut (Sweet). Render me justice.
Clove Tree. Dignity.
Cornel Tree (Cornelian Cherry). Duration.
Elder. Zealousness; compassion.
Elm. Dignity.
Fig Tree. (celebrated and venerated). Profusion; longevity.
Filbert. Reconciliation.
Glory Tree. Glorious beauty.
Hawthorn (May). Hope; sweet hope.
Hazel (classical mythology). Peace; reconciliation.
Holly. Foresight; am I forgotten.
Hornbeam. Ornament.
Horse Chestnut. Luxuriance; luxury.
Jujube Tree. Relief.
Juniper. Succour; protection; asylum.
Laburnum. Pensive beauty; forsaken.
Lagerstroemia (Indian). Eloquence.
Larch. Boldness; audacity.
Lemon Verbena. Zest; sensibility.
Lime (Linden). Conjugal love; avenue.
Locust Tree. Elegance.
Locust (Green; Carob). Affection beyond the grave.
Lote Tree. Concord.
Magnolia grandiflora. Love of nature.
Magnolia (laurel leafed). Dignity.
Magnolia (swamp). Perserverance.
Maidenhair Tree. Bond of love.
Maple. Reserve,
Mulberry (white). Wisdom.
Myrobalan (Cherry Plum). Bereavement; privation.
Nettle Tree. Concert.
Oak (legendary; sacred; revered). Hospitality; liberty.
Oak (Holm) (evergreen). Hospitality; liberty.
Oak (White). Independence.
Olive. Peace.
Orange Tree. Generosity; virginity.
Palm (Date) (associated with the phoenix). Victory over death.
Peach. Your qualities, like your charms, are unequalled. I am your captive.
Pear. Affection; comfort.
Persimmon. Bury me amid nature’s beauties.
Pine and Black Pine. Pity.
Pine (Pitch). Philosophy; time.
Pine (Spruce). Hope in adversity.
Plane. Genius.
Plum. Keep your promises; fidelity.
Plum (Wild). Independence.
Popular (Black). Courage.
Popular (White). Time.
Rowan (Mountain Ash). (celebrated; venerated). Prudence.
Service Tree. Prudence.
Snowball Tree (Guelder Rose). Thoughts of heaven; winter of age; good news.
Strawberry Tree. Esteem and love.
Sycamore. Woodland beauty; curiosity; reserve.
Walnut. Stratagem; intellect.
Willow and Weeping Willow. Sorrow; lamentation; mourning; forsaken.
Willow (French). Bravery; humanity.
Yew (legendary). Sorrow; sadness; great ag n ; wisdom.

Shrubs and their traditional connotations;

Allspice. Compassion.
Althea. Exquisite sweetness.
Angelica. Inspiration; gentle melancholy.
Arbor Vitae. Unchanging friendship; live for me.
Azalea. Temperance.
Blackthorn. Difficulty.
Bladder-nut. Amusement; frivolity.
Box. Stoicism.
Broom. Humility; neatness.
Bryony (black). Be my support.
Cacalia. Adulation.
Calycanthus. Benevolence.
Camellia. Constancy and steadfastness.
Camellia Japonica (red). Unpretending excellence.
Camellia Japonica (white). Perfected loveliness.
Cinquefoil. Maternal love.
Clematis. Mental beauty.
Coronilla. Success crown your wishes.
Dogwood. Duration; durability.
Eglantine (full blown). Simplicity.
Eglantine (sweet briar). Poetry; I wound to heal.
Everlasting. Constancy, never ceasing remembrance.
Fuchsia (scarlet). Amiability; taste.
Glory Bower. Glorious beauty.
Gooseberry. Anticipation.
Grapevine (wild). Charity.
Guelder Rose. Age; winter.
Health. Solitude.
Hibiscus (bush mallow; bush hollyhock). Delicate beauty.
Honeysuckle. Generous and devoted affection; bond of affection; sweetness of disposition.
Honeysuckle (French). Rustic beauty.
Hoya. Sculpture.
Ivy. Attachment; fidelity; friendship.
Japonica (Pyrus). Fairies fire.
Jasmine (cape). Transport of joy. I’m too happy.
Jasmine (Carolina). Separation.
Jasmine (Indian). Attachment; I attach myself to you.
Jasmine (Spanish). Sensuality.
Jasmine (White). Amiability; amiableness.
Jasmine (Yellow). Grace and elegance.
Juniper. Asylum; protection; succour.
Laurel (mountain [Kalmia]). Ambition; glory.
Laurel (spurge [Euphorbia]). Desire to please.
Lavender. Assiduity; diligence; silence.
Lemon Verbena. Sensibility; zest.
Lilac (Common). Fraternal love; memory; memority.
Lilac (Field). Humility.
Lilac (Purple). First emotions of love.
Lilac (White). Modesty; purity; youthful innocence.
Magnolia. Love of nature.
Mallow (Lavatera). Humanity; maternal tenderness; sweet disposition.
Mallow (Marsh). Beneficence.
Mezereon. Desire to please.
Milfoil (Yarrow). Cure and recovery.
Mistletoe. Magical; obstacles to be overcome; I surmount all difficulties.
Mock Orange. Brotherly love.
Myrtle. Love.
Orange Blossom (Mexican). Generosity.
Osier. Frankness.
Passion Flower. Faith; religion; superstition.
Periwinkle. Pleasures of memory; tender recollections; unalterable friendship.
Privet. Defence; youth.
Rhododendron. Danger; beware; I shall never look upon his like again.
Rose. Usual meanings: Peace; Love; Beauty.

Meanings expanded and explored as follows:

Peace (Chicago); Peace (Pink); Peace (Yellow). All Hybrid Tea; meaning peace.
New Dawn (Rambler). Promise renewed; new dawn.
Austrian. Thou art all that is lovely.
Burgundy. Unconscious beauty.
Beauty always new.
Damask. Beauty ever new.
Full Red. Beauty.
Hundred Leaved. Grace; the graces; pride.
Multiflora. Grace.
Musk. Capricious beauty.
Musk (cluster). Charming.
Red Leaved. Beauty and prosperity.
Bridal. Happy love.
Cabbage. Ambassador of love.
Campion. Only deserve my love.
Full White. I am worthy of you.
Moss. Love; superior merit; voluptuousness.
Lancaster. Union.
White and Red together. Unity.
Single. Simplicity.
Dog. Pain; pleasure; simplicity.
White. Silence.
Sweet Briar (American). Simplicity.
Sweet Briar (European). I wound to heal.
Rosemary. Energy; fidelity; power of rekindling; remembrance; your presence revives.
Sage. Esteem.
Sage (Garden). Domestic virtue.
Solanum. Prodigality.
Spindle Tree. Ineffaceable memory; your charms are engraved upon my heart.
Sumach. Intellectual excellence; splendour.
Traveller’s Joy. (Old Man’s Beard). Safety.
Woodbine (wild honeysuckle). Fraternal love.

Flowers and their traditional connotations:

Acanthus. Love of fine arts; the fine arts; perfection of female loveliness.
Adonis. Sorrowful remembrance.
Agrimony. Thankfulness; gratitude.
Aloe. Grief; acute sorrow; affliction.
Amaranth. Unfading love; fidelity; constancy.
Amaranth (Globe). Immortality; unchangeable.
Amaryllis. Pride; splendid beauty; timidity.
American Starwort. Welcome to a stranger; cheerfulness in old age.
American Cudweed. Unceasing remembrance.
Aster. Elegance.
Anemone. Expectation.
Angelica. Inspiration.
Balm. Sympathy.
Bearded Crepis. Protection.
Bell Flower (Campanula). Constancy.
Bell Flower (small white). Gratitude.
Bindweed (small). Humility.
Bittersweet Nightshade. Truth.
Bluebell. Constancy.
Bluebottle (Cenraury) (Cornflower). Delicacy.
Buckbean (Water). Calm repose.
Butterfly Orchis. Gaiety.
Calla aethiopica (bog lily). Magnificent Beauty.
Canary Curass. Perseverance.
Canterbury Bell. Gratitude; constancy; acknowledgement.
Cardinal Flower (Lobelia). Distinction.
Cactus. Warmth.
Celandine (lesser). Joys to come.
Centaury (cornflower). Delicacy.
Chamomile. Energy in adversity; war graves use.
Chickweed. Rendezvous.
Christmas Rose. Relieve my anxiety.
Chrysanthemum (Chinese). Cheerfulness in adversity.
Chrysanthemum (Red). I love.
Chrysanthemum (White). Truth.
Chrysanthemum (Yellow). Slighted love.
Cinquefoil. Maternal love; maternal affection.
Clover (Purple). Provident.
Clover (Red). Industry.
Clover (White). Think of me.
Coltsfoot. Justice shall be done to you.
Convolvulus (pink). Tender affection.
Coreopsis. Always cheerful.
Coriander. Hidden worth.
Corn. Riches.
Corn Cockle. Gentility (very rare).
Cowslip. Pensiveness; winning grace.
Cowslip (American). Divine beauty; my divinity.
Creeping Cereus. Modest genius.
Cress. Stability; power.
Crocus. Abuse not; youthful goodness; pleasures of hope.
Crocus (saffron). Mirth; smiles; cheerfulness.
Crocus (spring). Youthful gladness.
Crown Imperial. Majesty.
Daffodil. Regard, chivalry.
Daisy. Innocence.
Daisy (party-coloured). Beauty.
Daisy (wild). I will think of you.
Daisy (Michaelmas). Farewell.
Dock. Patience.
Dogs Mercury. Goodness.
Everlasting. Never-ceasing remembrance.
Everlasting Pea. Lasting pleasure.
Fennel. Worth of all praise; strength; merit.
Flax. I feel your kindness; domestic industry.
Fleur-de-Lis. Flame; I burn.
Floss Adonis (Pheasant’s Eye). Remembrance; painful recollections.
Forget-me-not. True love; faithful remembrance.
Foxglove. Adulation; south.
Garden Chervil. Sincerity.
Geranium (Dark). Melancholy.
Geranium (Lemon). Unexpected meeting.
Geranium (Oak leafed). True friendship.
Geranium (Pencil leafed). Ingenuity.
Geranium (Rose scented). Preference.
Geranium (Scarlet). Comforting.
Geranium (Silver leafed). Recall.
Geranium (Wild). Steadfast Piety.
Gilly-Flower (clove scented stock). Bonds of affection; lasting beauty.
Glory-Flower. Glorious beauty.
Golden-Rod. Precaution.
Harebell. Grief.
Hawkweed. Quicksightedness.
Helenium. Tears.
Heliotrope (Peruvian). Eternal love; devotion; faithfulness.
Hellebore. Wit; tranquillize my anxiety.
Hepatica. Confidence.
Holly; Herb. Enchantment.
Hollyhock. (Althea rosea). Persuasion; ambition; fruitfulness; fecundity; prolific.
Honesty. Honesty.
Hyacinth. Amenity.
Iceland Moss. Health.
Iris. Message.
Iris (German). Flame.
Jonquil. I desire a return of affection.
King-cups. Desire of riches.
Larkspur. Lightness; levity; open hand.
Lily. Purity; majesty.
Lily (White). Modesty; purity; sweetness.
Lilly (Yellow). Gaiety.
Lilly of the Valley. Return of happiness.
Lucerne. Life.
Lupin. Imagination.
Mallow. Mildness.
Mallow (Syrian). Persuasion, consumed by love.
Mallow (Venetian). Delicate beauty.
Marigold. Grief.
Marjoram. Consolation; blushes.
Mignionette. Your qualities surpass your charms.
Milkvetch. Your presence softens pains.
Milkwort. Hermitage.
Mint. Virtue; wisdom.
Mistletoe. I surmount difficulties.
Moss. Maternal love.
Mossy Saxifrage. Affection.
Mindwort. Tranquillity.
Nasturtium. Patriotism; splendour.
Nightshade (bittersweet). Truth.
Orchis (butterfly). Gaiety.
Osmunda. Dreams.
Ox Eye. Patience.
Pansy. Thoughts.
Parsley. Festivity.
Peppermint. Warmth of feeling.
Periwinkle. Tender recollections; unutterable friendship.
Periwinkle (Blue). Early friendship.
Periwinkle (White). Pleasures of memory.
Pink. Boldness.
Pink (Indian). Always lovely.
Pink (Red). Lively and pure love; ardent.
Pink (White). Ingeniousness; talent.
Polyanthus. Confidence.
Poppy. Sleep; my antidote; consolation to the sick; oblivion.
Poppy (Scarlet). Fantastic extravagance.
Poppy (Red). Consolation.
Potato. Benevolence.
Primrose. Early youth; youth.
Reeds (bundles). Music.
Reeds (flowering). Confidence in heaven.
Ranunculus (Garden). Confidence; rich in attractions; radiant with charms.
Rudbeckia. Justice.
Rue (Goats). Reason.
Rue (Meadow). Fecundity.
Snowdrop. Consolation; adventurous friendship; hope; conclusion.
Sorrel. Affection; joy; maternal tenderness.
Speedwell. Esteem; fidelity.
Spiderwort. Esteem not love.
Stock. Lasting beauty.
Stonecrop. Tranquillity.
Sweet Alyssum. Worth beyond beauty.
Sweet Basil. Good wishes.
Sweet Cicely. Gladness.
Sweet Pea. Delicate pleasures; departure.
Sweet Sultan. Felicity; happiness.
Sweet William. Gallantry; finesse.
Sunflower (Dwarf). Adoration.
Thrift. Sympathy.
Thyme. Spontaneous emotion.
Trefoil (Lotus). Uncertainty.
Trillium pictum. Modest beauty.
Trumpet Flower. Fame.
Tulip. Grandeur’ fame.
Tulip (Red). Declaration of love.
Tulip (Variegated). Beautiful vision.
Turnip. Charity.
Valerian. Readiness; an accommodating disposition.
Vervain. Pure affection; enchantment.
Violet. Modesty.
Violet (Blue). Faithfulness.
Violet (Dame). Watchfulness.
Violet (White). Innocence; candour.
Violet (Yellow). Rural happiness.
Wallflower. Fidelity in adversity (in misfortune).
White Mullein. Good nature.
Zephyr Flower. Expectation.
Zinnia. Thoughts of absent friends.

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