“City and Fears”

“City and Fears”, Eli Eliahu (Am-Oved Publishers, 2011) 85 Pages

“City and panics” is Eli Eliahu’s second book of poetry. In it he explores man’s universal experience through poetic language. In the poem ‘Storm’ (10), he likens himself to Elijah, Jonah’s prophet but in this role of poet-prophet he cannot overcome the gap between the particular narrative in question, and the universality he hopes to convey. Eliahu engages with the unique characteristics of life but they fail to provide him with tranquility. Among these elements are his young daughter’s voice, signs of his economic struggle as a poet, his memories of Iraqi parents, and his longing for his dead father.

The title “City and fears” is taken from Jeremiah 15:8: “Their widows are multiplied to me above the sand of the seas: I have brought upon them against the mother of the young men a spoiler at noon-day: I have caused him to fall upon it suddenly and terrors upon the city”[1].

The first poem of the book (the last stanza) Eliahu finds itself a miracle mission: “Now the road stretches in the moonlight I / fugitive mission, prevents fuel charge / of childhood, God the past, the fading / flashlight beam on the run, a miracle is to come “(The song” Escape “, page 7). He is afraid to repeat the mistakes that he experienced as a child.

The poems trying to create a universal language, and therefore hardly includes any specific locations. It speaks in the voice of the universal man. Nevertheless, the biographical element cannot be eliminated, and it reemerges and announces its presence. The song “History”: “For this house, / villages were emptied of their inhabitants, / wells were blocked, sheep / scattered / / for this house / people forgot / their mother tongue” (p. 64). The poem can be read as the story of Arab citizens in Israel, but when we look at the transition between the second and third stanza, we discover that he is really talking about the memory of his family and friends- the same sad erasure of the Iraqi language.

Eliahu ‘s flight is reflected throughout the book, like Jeremiah’s prophecy about the future. But just when he escapes an infinite future, Eliahu’s poems draw us back in, tying together the the universal and the unique.


[1] Webster’s Bible  translation captures the Hebrew meaning of “City and fears”

Two birds By Señor Codo cc: flickr
Two birds By Señor Codo cc: flickr

The Painted Bird / Eli Eliahu

I did not hit the old man whose frock was stained with blood,

and it was not I who shot the person standing on the Mosque’s roof clutching a brick.

In the tank’s hull I read “The Painted Bird” and in the guarding post

I wrote poetry (only death, I knew, could spring one free from the written line).

But in the nights I was covered in terrible shame, my soul was bound

in the bundle of guilt, and fear gnawed like a famished rat. It’s a good thing

there was love, at least, as in someone to ring, and to listen to

Tel-Aviv laughing through her, like a child unaware of its mortality.

From Hebrew: Daniel oz

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s