“In Our Line of Duty” by Eli Eliahu

Eli Eliahu


We were neither many nor few,
nor were we heroes.
We went where the maps said.
We bound whomever we had to bind
in our line of duty. 

We were neither many nor few,
nor were we heroes.
We guarded whom we had to guard.
There was always someone higher up,

there was always someone who knew what we had to do.
We weren’t made for revolutions.
We had enough problems 
of our own.



translated from the Hebrew by Marcela Sulak

from Rattle #71, Spring 2021


Eli Eliahu is author of three collections, I, and Not an Angel (2008), City and Fears (2011), and Epistles to the Children (2018). He’s received the Matanel Prize for Young Jewish Writers (2013), the Israel Prime Minister’s Prize in Poetry (2014), and the Brenner Prize for Poetry (2019). He works as an editor at the daily Ha-aretz.

Marcela Sulak: “One day during one of the wars with Gaza, my friend Adriana X. Jacobs posted Eli Eliahu’s poem ‘Underground’ in rough translation on her Facebook page. I read it over and over, devastated by the centuries of glory and loss, joy and pain, and the narratives layered like geological formations—all of it condensed into a few lines. Mostly, I was moved by Eliahu’s humanity, and I knew I wanted to translate him. I felt doing so would make me a kinder and more thoughtful person. And allowing people to read him might make the world a kinder and more humane world.” (web)

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