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This poem is taken from PN Review 143, Volume 28 Number 3, January - February 2002.

Two Poems Alfred Corn

The Common Thread

In the graphic textiles of experience,
Where themes are threads, trace the one that runs,
First, through the fable of the compliant Cat
Who combed red coals (the Monkey goading, scolding)
To rake out toasted chestnuts tittering guile
Could then with unharmed fingers peel and eat,
Not one left for the dupe who scorched her paw;
That, and the clemency of Coriolanus,
Sparing ancestral Rome a bloody sack,
His banishment, meanwhile, still not rescinded;
And the French maxim noting that we all

Have fortitude enough to endure the torment
Of persons not ourselves; or gibes lobbed at
The man forsaken: 'Others he saved, himself
He cannot save.'
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