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Alas! when the lead of illness flowed

Alas! when the lead of illness flowed in my benumbed veins with my heavy, sluggish blood, with my blood day by day heavier and more sluggish;
When my eyes, my poor eyes, followed peevishly on my long, pale hands the fatal marks of insidious malady;
When my skin dried up like bark, and I had no longer even strength enough to press my fiery lips against your heart, and there kiss our happiness;
When sad and identical days morosely gnawed my life, I might never have found the will and the strength to hold out stoically,
Had you not, each hour of the so long weeks, poured into my daily body with your patient, gentle, placid hands the secret heroism that flowed in yours.

Poem by Emile Verhaeren
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