Saturday, October 26, 2013


Sometimes, I have to see "something" several times before a pattern emerges and I get an idea for a post. Recently, I have had two feeds to my FB wall, one from and another from wordporn, both defining the word, Hiraeth (he-writhe). In Welsh it means homesickness. However, in a broader sense, it also means a longing for places to which we may never return.

We may never return to the past, for example, to re-visit our youth, or meet with people we once knew, or go to places that have changed so dramatically, that they are no longer what they were.

It's a word that is often said very softly. It moans a little and catches at the back of the throat in a slight guttural rush. Half sob, half sigh, it lingers in the air for a moment, before it fades like the memories it hopes to revive.

Steps Back in Time

It's a word that I heard often during my time in Wales. The phrase, "Oh the Hiraeth," would generally end a story, as "Amen" would end a prayer.

You have to wonder about cultures that have a single word for this angst. Are they people who cling to the past? Or have they, like the Welsh, been subjected to such a violent wrenching away of their language and customs, that the keening never stops.

I don't know the answer. All I know is that both the Irish and the Welsh and possibly other cultures have turned this Hiraeth into music that moves the soul. If a song has the power to pull back the curtain of time and draw from oblivion the people and places we need to see again, then let it be heard.

Hiraeth - sorry I couldn't embed it.

Have a memorable day!!


  1. As someone from Irish descent, there sometimes is only one word that captures all the emotions, the angst. I like that word. Thank you.

  2. never heard about this word earlier. it is a nice word. happy UBC challenge