‘Saudade’: 2017 –  Photograph used with kind permission of AK  ©


Saudade‘ is a Portuguese word which does not have a direct equivalent in English. It is usually described as ‘a nostalgic longing to be near something or someone that is distant, or that has been loved and lost’  or as ‘the love that remains’ after someone or some place is gone. In its wider sense it conveys feelings, of experiences, places, events that once brought pleasure, but which now trigger the senses and make one live again, although often with an underlying sense that the object of longing will never return.

Several pieces of music have been composed which attempt to convey such feelings of nostalgia and melancholy, mostly by the Brazilian composers for the classical guitar. One of my favourite pieces of guitar music is the ‘SAUDADE’ composed by Diermando Reis.  I have used it here to accompany my poem.  It is played beautifully with great tenderness and technique, by the French classical guitar maestro, Frédéric BERNARD (“Cyrloud”).

I encourage viewers to turn up the volume, then click on this YouTube video link to the music which will open the video in a separate window.  If you then return to this main screen window you will be able to read the poem whilst the music is playing . . .

Guitar from Brazil: Eterna Saudade, Dilermando Reis



I retain
a longing that never leaves
a love that heeds
neither present
nor future
but clings to the past
as suckers of ivy
cleave to my crumbling walls
as the unceasing tide
the shore

and, as the guitar’s
velvet fingerings
hold me in their thrall
its mellow notes
take me
to that soft spring time
of my youth
when life had begun
to take on meaning
memory then
had no significance
and zeal and lust
freshly formed
were all

those times long past
remain with me
brighter than yesterday
clearer than today
the music returns me
to that other time
that other place
bound by hiraeth
bringing with it
for opportunities gone
for loss of that distant
loved land
and people

enchanted in memory
and now
all too bitingly missed
and longed for
… saudade




8 thoughts on “Saudade

  1. I’ve enjoyed this immensely Roland, is the word ‘hiraeth’ of a similar meaning to ‘saudade’ ? What language is it, it feels Celtic, Irish possibly ? I find that it is always the simple things like the first time I saw a small fishing boat unload it’s catch, or rain on a caravan roof that I long for and never my first car, or passing professional exams. Thank you Roland
    There is something quite special about latin style classical guitar playing.


    • You are correct in guessing that ‘Hiraeth’ is Celtic in origin, Nigel . It is Welsh and does have a similar meaning to ‘saudade’, meaning something akin to ‘homesickness’. I love the Brazilian classical guitar composers. Villa-Lobos being my favourite. Thank you for your appreciative comments.

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  2. A good combination reading the poem with the background music Roland. It creates that sense of melancholy and longing. An excellent post.


  3. Roland, this is so very beautiful! Your poem is wonderful if full of longing. Beautifully written. Yet another of yours I will save. To also give us this beautiful and tender classical guitar piece had me undone. I didn’t know Saudade but know Villa-Lobos well and many other classical guitar composers. I was for some years a performing guitarist myself.
    Haven’t we all hidden depths and highs……..
    Thank you for this post


    • I am so pleased to have your comments on ‘Saudade’, Miriam. I too love the Brazilian guitarists and have, in the distant past, struggled to reproduce several Villa-Lobos pieces, particularly the Preludes. ‘Saudade is also a particular favourite and inspired my poem. I certainly never reached your performing guitarist status, but am grateful for their existence on YouTube.


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