The City

Author

Cavafy, C. P.

Genre

Poetry

Overview

Constantine Cavafy was born in Alexandria, Egypt to Greek parents and spent his childhood living in England and Egypt. He is considered one of the most influential twentieth century Greek poets. His poem, “The City,” is a conversation between two speakers about the state of their city and the possibility of finding anything new in other places around the world. This poem explores issues of belonging and exclusion, citizenship, impacts and outcomes, and patriotism.

Full Text*

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Source

Published in The Canon (2000)

Type

Reading - Short Enough to Read Aloud.

Themes

Citizenship and DemocracyHeritage and TraditionSocial and Political Change

Big Questions

How do we remain loyal to our heritage and traditions?What is change? Do people experience change differently?

Publication

Taking Action

Sample Discussion Questions

  1. What is the conversation about? Who is it with?
  2. What makes the other speaker want to leave their city? What is the main speaker’s response?
  3. Do you agree that “you’ll find no new places” and that nothing changes between different places?
  4. What doubts does the speaker have? Why is he or she skeptical?
  5. In your own work, when is there conflict between your work and the impact or outcomes? Do you ever have doubts about the impact of your work?
  6. What do you think about the end of the poem?
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