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bmadnick eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The poem is about a declining civilization where all leaders have given up trying to accomplish anything. The orators don't deliver speeches because they no longer believe in the power of their words. The people now look to barbarians to save them, even though the people should be afraid of an invasion by barbarians. Because the leaders and people in the city have lost faith in their civilization, they think the barbarians can rejuvenate them. Actually, an invasion by barbarians isn't even a reality. It's just a false hope of those who have given up. The civilization's only real hope lies within themselves, but they refuse to accept this. They would rather be destroyed by barbarians than have to fix their own civilization.

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Waiting for the Barbarians

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