I don’t know that there’s anything to say about saudade that hasn’t been said. Anyone familiar with this Portuguese word has learned that it can’t be translated into English successfully and it’s a profound word with several layers of deep feeling attached to it. Saudade is not merely missing something that is gone. It is missing something that still exists, but you can't have any more. One of the best descriptions of this cluster of feelings dates to the 1912 book, “In Portugal” in which the author describes saudade as a “vague and constant desire for something that does not and probably cannot, exist, for something other than the present. Saudade is not an active discontent or poignant sadness but an indolent dreaming wistfulness. (In Portugal, Aubrey F.G. Bell, London, John Lane; New York, John Lane Co., 1912). I love that description!
Saudade was first used in the 13th century and it makes sense that it’s remained a staple of the Portuguese experience. Throughout history, the Portuguese have been sailors of the seas and seekers of a new life. From leaving the motherland in a quest of acquiring new worlds to leaving home in hopes of finding a better life, the Portuguese have a long history of departing. So, saudade is not only a feeling of homesickness, it’s a feeling of a lost connection with the knowledge that there is no going back. It’s a feeling so profound that it’s experienced by all ages of immigrants. Saudade is so ingrained in the Portuguese culture that it’s experienced by those who made the decision to leave their homeland due to natural disaster and economic difficulties, it’s felt by those known as “third culture kids”.
Saudade is a feeling of lost connection with sights, smells, sounds and textures that we once pleasant and important and are now lost forever. With hundreds of years of setting sights for other places, it wouldn’t be a surprise if it was discovered that the very DNA of Portuguese people is infused with saudades.
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From your friends at Rooster Camisa, haja saúde and here’s wishing you a good journey!