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This poem is taken from PN Review 60, Volume 14 Number 4, March - April 1988.

Four Poems Iain Crichton Smith

The Aesthetic and the Ethical

Slowly we are adopted by the words . . . slowly we
  are other.
We are the aesthetic critics, not the ethical.
The play is a playful event.

Even agony becomes beautiful.
Even the broken heads are questionable.
Even the dictator's talent is in doubt.

No sounds from the street reach this theatre.
The torturer is a genius or he is not.
The drapery on the coffin a lovely red.

The actor walks out into a cold street.
Someone arrests him . . . someone tortures him.
His scream is no longer an actor's scream,

and yet the one from the theatre sounds like it.
The two screams meet where no one has a name.

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