December 27, 2006

What is “Saudade” Worthy?

Posted in philosophy, psychology at 3:22 am by Jerry

I’ve discovered the word “Saudade.” Here’s some quick descriptions of it:

a Portuguese word for a feeling of longing for something that one is fond of, which is gone, but might return in a distant future. It often carries a fatalist tone and a repressed knowledge that the object of longing might really never return.

In his book In Portugal of 1912, A.F.G Bell writes:
“The famous saudade of the Portuguese is a vague and constant desire for something that does not and probably cannot exist, for something other than the present, a turning towards the past or towards the future; not an active discontent or poignant sadness but an indolent dreaming wistfulness.”

Saudade is different from nostalgia (the English word, that is). 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.

[…] saudade does not involve tediousness. Rather, the feeling of saudade accentuates itself: the more one thinks about the loved person or object, the more one feels saudade. The feeling can even be creative, as one strives to fill in what is missing with something else or to recover it altogether.


Here’s where my exploration of this word has taken me:

  • Is there anything in my life (or this world) saudade-worthy?
  • If so, should it be made into a nostalgic feeling instead?
  • Have I simply stumbled upon the struggle between idealism and realism, the search for a realistic “Ought”?
  • Am I re-evaluating where HOPE and FATE have a place in my life? (I’ve thought for a long time now – Where HOPE exists, FATE made it so. But it still doesn’t make my hope right.)
  • Where should I direct my hope?


  1. Randall said,

    Jerry, you have “Discovered” a great word, I don’t remember seeing it before but I do know some times in my life in which it would have been good to have it around.

    I remember that it says:

    “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life.”

    I dunno, maybe another word we should throw into the mix is the word grief.

    Not just having to do with death, but having to do with loss. Loss of ideals or relationships. Loss of hopes or dreams or expectations.

    I know these days are not easy on you. Just keep being honest in your pursuit of truth and hope, and the future.

    Blessings on ya guy.

  2. Jerry said,

    Thanks. Consoling words for a sad boy.

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