The City


The City by C.P. Cavafy

You said: “I’ll go to another country, go to another shore,
find another city better than this one.
Whatever I try to do is fated to turn out wrong
and my heart lies buried as though it were something dead.
How long can I let my mind moulder in this place?
Wherever I turn, wherever I happen to look,
I see the black ruins of my life, here,
where I’ve spent so many years, wasted them, destroyed them totally.”
You won’t find a new country, won’t find another shore.
This city will always pursue you. You will walk
the same streets, grow old in the same neighborhoods,
will turn gray in these same houses.
You will always end up in this city. Don’t hope for things elsewhere:
there is no ship for you, there is no road.
As you’ve wasted your life here, in this small corner,
you’ve destroyed it everywhere else in the world. 


I read the translated version of the poem “The City” a year ago. Until then I didn’t know about Cavafy and his creations. I read a lot of other translated versions of his poems later. But The City remains one of my most favorite poems. I’m sure the actual version is much better than the translated one, because translation kills poet’s true emotions.

There’s something about the poem that inspires me to think a lot, not to any particular direction. Not everyday. Once in a while. Maybe because I get used to with my daily routine and other habits and I want to break all of them sometimes. Maybe because each city where I lived and found happiness has taken lots of space of my heart. Maybe those words have something so intriguing; I am still trying figure out why I love reading it again and again. 

I have a created a new Category on my blog: “Tailpiece”. Time to time I am going to add favorite poems, quotes and lines from known and unknown books here. “The City” is the first entry to the category.


Do you save such piece of work that you love re-reading? Do those lines try to mean something to you? Have you heard of the poem “The City” before?

Author: Archita

Musings about life and photography.

12 thoughts on “The City”

  1. There many translations of The City, both in French and English. The actual poem was written in Greek. When I read it for the first time, I found it haunting- a piece on a man who dreamed of leaving his city, but could not. Sometimes we find grass is greener on the side. Something like that. It’s about grief and broken dreams. I loved it. Next time when I read the poem, I found a different meaning- it’s about a journey where fate just like truth tracks a man down, no matter which city he lives, he can’t escape that. The third time reading gave me another meaning. Slowly I started loving it because this poem is so complicated and layered.

    Thank you for the visit and reading, E. 🙂

  2. Archita dear, thanks for sharing this poem. I’m living in another city and missing my own. Very beautiful poem. What a nice taste you have.

  3. To me, the poem speaks of bitterness and truth… It’s painful and real and beautiful all at once. Thank you for sharing. 🙂

  4. Thank you for the visit. 🙂 I wanted to make space for my favorite words. I just found time and a way to do it today.

  5. Thank you for the visit. I think, The City is more complex and more layered than any unrealized dream. That’s the beauty of it.

  6. I love this poem.. Thanks for sharing. It gives a jittery sense of nostalgia! And lovely click there! 🙂

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