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Monday, August 20, 2012

Feeling Saudade and Transcending the Indescribable Pain

The Portuguese call it saudade: a longing for something
so indefinite as to be indefinable.
Love affairs, miseries of life, the way things were, people already dead,
those who left and the ocean that tossed them on the shores of a different land -
all things born of the soul that can only be felt.”
―Anthony De Sa, Barnacle Lo

In his book In Portugal of 1912, A. F. G Bell writes:

"Saudade (pronounced sawˈdadɨ) is different from nostalgia; in nostalgia, one has a mixed happy and sad feeling, a memory of happiness but a sadness for its impossible return and sole existence in the past. Saudade is like nostalgia but with the hope that what is being longed for might return, even if that return is unlikely or so distant in the future to be almost of no consequence to the present."

"One might make a strong analogy with nostalgia as a feeling one has for a loved one who has died and saudade as a feeling one has for a loved one who has disappeared or is simply currently absent. Nostalgia is located in the past and is somewhat conformist while saudade is very present, anguishing, anxious and extends into the future."

Some believe the ultimate form of saudade is one felt towards people and things whose whereabouts are unknown in regards to any of the following things or circumstances:

  • Old ways and sayings
  • A lost lover
  • A far away place where one was raised
  • One lover sadly missing another
  • Loved ones who have passed away
  • Feelings and stimuli one used to have but has tired of
  • One's youth

The word saudade was used in the (13th-century). Some specialists say the word may have originated during the Great Portuguese Discoveries, giving meaning to the sadness felt about those who departed on journeys to unknown seas and disappeared in shipwrecks, died in battle, or simply never returned.

Those who stayed behind—mostly women and children—suffered deeply in their absence; the state of mind has subsequently become a "Portuguese way of life": a constant feeling of absence, the sadness of something that's missing, wishful longing for completeness or wholeness and the yearning for the return of that is now gone, a desire for presence as opposed to absence --as it is said in Portuguese, a strong desire to " matar as saudades " (lit. to kill the saudades ). More than yearning or longing, the “Portuguese soul” adds to this sentiment a feeling that the return of that thing or person is unknowable and entirely left to fate. ( )

Undefinable Longing

Saudade can be a rush of sadness coupled with a paradoxical joy derived from acceptance of fate and the hope of recovering or replacing what is lost by something that will either fill the emptiness or provide consolation.

Saudade is often bittersweet -- that single moment when the greatest joy and agony are experienced. Sometimes missing something isn't solely horrible. Feeling saudade can also be blissful. The feeling is sugar-coated. Those who experience it remember it with a grin, a laugh about the memories and their hearts are filled with this great intoxicating feeling. They feel happy that they have people and places to miss.

It is rare that a word can elude precise definition and yet symbolize something universally experienced. The complex nature of saudade is more than emotional yearning. Saudade has been described as a vague and constant desire for something that does not and probably cannot exist. It may also be translated as a deep longing or yearning for something that does not exist or is unattainable such as unrequited love.

In short, the feeling and mood of saudade can take different aspects, from concrete realities (a loved one, a friend, the homeland) to the mysterious and transcendant. It may be an incompleteness that one unconsciously wants to never completely resolve.

“Love is the distance

between you and what you love."

What you love is your fate”

–Frank Bidart

By Rufina Bernardetti Silva Mausenbau

Mysterious signs hidden
of dreams taking refuge
of love, joy and pain
looking through the dark
centuries of time

Trembling emotions of
magical hope

rare incredible promises
of life, and love crossing
to present times
pain and violence of
perpetual rebirth emerging

Memories retained
imposing brutally on the present
fragmenting the heart
perceptible only to those transcending
the pain

Video: "Saudade" by Love and Rockets

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