Have you ever experienced a sense of longing, without being able to specify what it is you’re really longing for? Like just a diffuse unrest … a void inside … As if something is missing and you can’t find it?! Well … I have.

The other day, one of all the aspiring authors posted a word in Facebook «HIRAETH», I’d never seen or heard it before and neither had my husband, so I googled it.

Of all the results I got, I think one sentence pinpointed my, personal, take on this: [the image is clickable and will take you to the website it came from]

Now, this isn’t something I feel very often – it was much more in younger years, and most commonly in the Spring. It was as if i wanted to go away … move … quit my job … break up! I think it’s a longing for inner peace, but that I wasn’t able to analyse in my youth, so I did all of the above! Luckily I was able to correct it when I ‘came to my senses’ again. Eventually I matured [a little] and was able to handle this in a more sensible way, the few times it showed up. It became more and more rare … the yearning, or the urge to search for something that I didn’t even know what it was.

I’m not suffering from homesickness, even though it does happen that I get a slight bout with it – that’s only natural. Those times I think of all the people that find themselves forced to leave their homelands! I can go back whenever I want to, and I live in a country where the culture is very similar to where I come from! I wanted to go, because of love, and we discussed the issue thoroughly before we decided who would go where.

That’s quite the difference from leaving a war-torn country, only to end up in a totally foreign culture, where you don’t speak the language and perhaps not even recognise the writing system.

25 thoughts on “hiraeth

  1. nuvofelt

    Hiraeth expresses far more than any single word in the English language. It’s more than a ‘longing’ more than a ‘need’. It involves empathy too, maybe even for people long dead. You know it when you feel it, and if you have a Welsh background you probably will have often heard the word. My background is Welsh, but it’s only relatively recently that I have fully understood the word. It’s almost ‘physical’, not just emotional. Fancy reading about it here…… 🙂

    1. rebekah

      Thank you, Myfanwy. I was hoping someone with a Welsh connection would read this.

      One other time, when I could clearly sense this, was while walking around on an old cemetery in New Sweden, Maine. Reading all the names and the inscriptions in Swedish … my fellow countrymen and women who surely had a different trip over tha Atlantic Ocean, compared to me …

      1. nuvofelt

        I found the link to Hiraeth quite interesting. Their quote just doesn’t say it all, it really falls short and, I think, ‘short changes’ the word. You’ve obviously felt it.. So much more than restlessness etc.

  2. Maria

    Funny, I get extremely restless in early Spring and then again in early Autumn. Usually when I make cross-country moves, change jobs, apartments (even if it’s just to a different floor), etc… but I never feel that I’ve lost my soul – more that things are stagnant (think still pond water with algae and such) – just need a change, growth. Interesting to hear it has a name and so many feel it.

    1. rebekah

      It’s really difficult to put words to a feeling like that. That ‘Spring thing’ I believe has to do with the light coming back, after the long winter.

  3. annetteholmboe

    How do you pronounce that word?- I think about asking Pearl, as you know she is Welsh.
    I know the feeling of longing without knowing for what – but it is like its more or less disappeared now.
    When I look after the word, I can see it has several meanings ( maybe its a personal experience?).

    1. rebekah

      In Wikipedia, there’s a sound link … very good. I would think it’s rather personal and many things … like Myfanwy said here above. In my youth, it was almost physical.

      (Jag vet inte om du har läst Karin Boyes poem ‘Visst gör det ont när knoppar brister’)

  4. Pearl

    Oh my, I haven’t heard that word used for so many many years,I love Nuvofelt comments, thats as close to the truth as you can get, I too am Welsh and it is almost physical xx Thanks Reb xx

    1. rebekah

      Thank you, Pearl … you and Myfanwy are the only Welsh people I know, I think … so it was so interesting hearing your take on it!

  5. daydreamer2011

    Very interesting post Reb! I’d never heard of that word before BUT I sure have had that feeling in me… many times.
    I really like your blog – the look of it! I just changed my theme, but I am not sure lol.

    Now I am back and will TRY and write more. I think it will be good for me actually… and now when I am retired I got all the time LOL

  6. C.B. Wentworth

    What an interesting word. I had that feeling a few years and I believe that longing is what brought me to extended stay in London. It was a life-changing experience and now I have the right word for what inspired it. Thank you. 🙂

    1. rebekah

      Yes! Sometimes I do wonder though, if Spring doesn’t have something to do with melatonin … especially as we live here in the north…

      1. Nylabluesmum

        That makes perfect sense Rebby!! it must be something with the Melatonin….I get this wanderlust to go……only I am not sure where I actually want to go TO!! It is the oddest thing really…

  7. Pingback: There are places I remember | purrsonal mewsings

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