Saudade

Monday Morning Musings:

Saudade

“For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never visited.”
–C.S. Lewis, from The Weight of Glory

“If there is any point in using language at all it is that a word is taken to stand for a particular fact or idea and not for other facts or ideas.”
Tom Stoppard, Travesties, Act I (p. 22), Grove Press, Inc. 1975

Light and Shadows, Red Bank Battlefield

What language, what words
can express the golden glow
diffused through trees, the way it swells
between valleys, over hills

Egret, Early Morning, Red Bank Battlefield
Egret and Geese

the pensive blue, the egret white
a reversed silhouette in sapphire light,
the shimmering silver rills on river beach,
colors almost named; flavors almost tasted.

Early morning misty river
Geese in flight, Red Bank Battlefield

Now the crystal sky is smudged with grey,
red flowers bloom and grass grows greener,
drinking deep, as rain seeps to nourish roots below—
last call, last dance, before they sleep—

She’s sad and feeling ignored

the squirrels scurry in the shortening days,
and majesty with wide wings spread
soar in azure above our heads, like thoughts
here, gone, left unexpressed, but

spinning–as our Earth–
water-tilted, wobbles, remaining true to blue–
but what are the words for this time
of seeking beauty in strife and destruction

there’s no deconstruction of this theme,
no truth that dadaism could bring–
but in the apricot dawn and violet dusk
shadows sing

with words we almost know
and sounds we strive to hear.

Sunrise over the Delaware River

Happy Monday! I feel like everything is unsettled right now. It was a strange week, and I’m behind on everything. We had some beautiful, almost fall-like days, and now we’re getting much needed rain—though it’s so sticky and icky feeling that we turned the a/c back on last night.

There was a recent dVerse post that I missed on unusual words, but then I went down a Marginalian rabbit hole and discovered the word “saudade: the vague, constant longing for something or someone beyond the horizon of reality.”

Pine Street , Philadelphia, on a rainy Sunday afternoon


Yesterday, we took a rainy walk in Philadelphia and then saw the Lantern Theater Company’s production of the Tom Stoppard play, Travesties. As with all his plays, it’s a brilliant whirlwind of words, ideas, and styles, including a defense of art. All the actors were excellent—there’s so much fast dialogue, and it’s a long play. I also liked the set and lighting (something I don’t usually notice).

Here’s the synopsis from the theater’s Website:

Zürich, 1917. In Tom Stoppard’s Tony Award-winning comic masterpiece, obscure British diplomat Henry Carr and Dadaist Tristan Tzara are in love with Cecily and Gwendolen, who are both in love with someone named Jack. Carr stages a production of The Importance of Being Earnest with James Joyce, and the action gets heated when Vladimir Lenin bursts onto the scene. Soon everyone in neutral Switzerland is at war over the question, “What does it mean to be an artist and a revolutionary?”

Also, dealing with language, but of a different type, I’m reading the novel True Biz. It’s a coming-of-age novel set mainly in a fictional school for the deaf in Ohio. It’s truly illuminating. It’s making me see things about a culture I didn’t even really know existed. (More so, than I felt in the movie, CODA.)

We finished season 3 of For All Mankind on Apple TV+. Highly recommend it.

35 thoughts on “Saudade

  1. Good morning, Merril. I think I’ll look for “a reversed silhouette” today, but maybe I’ll have to wait until this evening.

    You packed so much into this post. Thanks for the book and movie recommendations. Enjoy your day! 😀

  2. Love the opening quote. Beautifully done, as per; but particularly so, today 🙂 I love the weather at this time of year. You have hot (but less sticky icky 😉 ) and then cool. Mind you, our last three days have been in the “feels like” 90’s and evenings remaining relatively warm, in the low 70’s.
    Have a wonderful rest of Monday!

  3. That’s a good way to treat an unusual word, put it in the title and let the poem explain it.
    I love that you’re seeing that lone egret. It’s obviously the same one that stands on a sandbank here 🙂

  4. Beautiful, Merril. It’s so easy to go down a rabbit hole with the Marginalian. What a wonderful word, “saudade.” And your phrase “colors almost named” is also wonderful. I often think names don’t quite fit the colors that nature provides.

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