peter gabriel

Saudade: The Love That Remains

It seems to me we can never give up longing and wishing while we are still alive. There are certain things we feel to be beautiful and good, and we must hunger for them.
― George Eliot

Recently a friend and I were discussing this idea of human longing and nostalgia. Missing SAUDADEsomeone or something that we once loved and that is no longer in our lives. It’s a concept which heavily informs his work as an artist and which has inspired some of the most powerful love poetry & music ever written. It can be condensed into one beautiful Portuguese word Saudade (pronounced Saudadji in Brazilian). It’s a feeling of incompleteness and melancholy characteristic of the Portuguese and Brazilian temperament. And today we’re going to look at a general overview of the topic and some poetry and music I feel best illustrate it.

So basically, Saudade is a longing. For love, for acceptance for a connection of some kind. We all have this desire for presence, missing something which is gone and wanting it back, especially love, losing love gives rise to enormous longing and suffering. I’m sure you’ve experienced that feeling that gnawing at the heart, the pain of remembering. Actually in Portuguese culture Saudade often carries the knowledge that the what is lost might never return – it’s much darker and melodramatic than the upbeat Saudade of Brazil which through hundreds of years of assimilation of cultures has become a much more amorphous term in that you can have Saudade for people, things, food, even for places you’ve never been. Saudade is the crossroads if you like, between loss and desire, something’s gone you want it returned. The great Portuguese writer Manuel de Melo describes it as ’a pleasure you suffer and an ailment you enjoy’. For me it’s the heartbreaking language of the soul, I suppose the best way is to describe saudade as the hearts desire and I can hear in these lines from Russian poet Anna Akhmatova:

‘This remorseless black separation’

I bear equally with you.

Why cry? Rather, give me your hand,

Promise to visit me in dream.
You and I – are like two mountains.

You and I – not meeting in this world.

If only sometimes, at midnight,

You’d send me a greeting through the stars.

 

 

 

Love is a huge matter when talking about Saudade. It’s what most poets and musicians write about and are inspired by. In terms of lost love you are missing part of yourself that you can no longer access. Even though reminiscing and vain hope are incredibly painful, you don’t want to let go of the heartache because you let go of the person, so you carry it with you. And this is the interesting point about Saudade, it is a missing and an absence but because you carry it with you it is also a presence.  On love, firstly I went for this one by Chilean poet Pablo Neruda for it’s tender pleading ‘don’t go far off, don’t leave me’ It’s one of his 100 love sonnets dedicated to his beloved wife Matilde Urrutia. Neruda is well aware of what the sorrow of separation is like, he does not want to risk the agony of it and cannot bear even the thought of it. In Sonnet 45 he writes:

Don’t go far off, not even for a day, because –
Because – I don’t know how to say it: a day is long
And I will be waiting for you, as in an empty station
When the trains are parked off somewhere else, asleep.

Don’t leave me, even for an hour, because
Then the little drops of anguish will all run together,
The smoke that roams looking for a home will drift
Into me, choking my lost heart.
Oh, may your silhouette never dissolve on the beach;
May your eyelids never flutter into the empty distance.
Don’t leave me for a second, my dearest,

Because in that moment you’ll have gone so far
I’ll wander maziliy over all the earth, asking,
Will you come back? Will you leave me here, dying?

 

 

Secondly, from her collection Radio Crackling, Radio Gone, American poet Lisa Olstein writes a sad poem of longing and disappointment. Dear One Absent This Long While stirs up those old feelings again of loss, rejection, sadness that something is unfinished or imperfect without ones other half. I know myself, losing love, it’s the bitter-sweetness of the longing that somehow lulls you back to it.  Hear the yearning in the words ‘I expect you’ as she goes on to search for little happiness’s while coping with the reality that her lover might never come back. She says:

It has been so wet stones glaze in moss;
everything blooms coldly.

I expect you. I thought one night it was you
at the base of the drive, you at the foot of the stairs,

you in a shiver of light, but each time
leaves in wind revealed themselves,

the retreating shadow of a fox, daybreak.
We expect you, cat and I, bluebirds and I, the stove.

In May we dreamed of wreaths burning on bonfires
over which young men and women leapt.
June efforts quietly.
I’ve planted vegetables along each garden wall

so even if spring continues to disappoint
we can say at least the lettuce loved the rain.

I have new gloves and a new hoe.
I practice eulogies. He was a hawk

with white feathered legs. She had the quiet ribs
of a salamander crossing the old pony post road.

Yours is the name the leaves chatter
at the edge of the un-rabbited woods.

 

Poets Norman MacCaig WS Merwin, Sheenagh Pugh & Kahlil Gibran also feature today along with music from Estrella Morente, Gilberto Gil, Dulce Pontes and Nick Cave.

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Study of the past

This weeks show features the poetry and music of History with Sharon Olds, Derek Walcott & Maura Dooley alongside Tori Amos, Ludovico Einaudi & Norah Jones.

Digital image

  Tracy Gaughan ©

 

Presented by Tracy Gaughan

The poetry and music of Success & Failure!

Walking by WestWords

Listen to my new show!

Barefoot In The Head – A Man Called Adam 

Walking on Tiptoe by Ted Kooser & Glamur – amiina

Song Of The Open Road by Walt Whitman & Solsbury Hill – Peter Gabriel

Can’t Go Back Now – The Weepies

A Step Away From Them by Frank O’Hara & Virginia Avenue – Tom Waits

Walking Around by Pablo Neruda & Tower Of Song – Leonard Cohen

In Praise Of Walking by Thomas A. Clark & Allistrum’s March – The Gloaming

Amalia – Melody Gardot

 

Enjoy the show!

Tracy 

WestWords Perfect Pair – 10.08.2014

Pulitzer Prize winning American poet, Philip Levine was born in Detroit, Michigan in 1928. He began to write poetry while he was going to night school at Wayne State University in Detroit. He earned a Master of Fine Arts degree from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop where he studied with Robert Lowell and John Berryman. Levine is frequently awarded and is author of sixteen books of poetry, including, Breath; The Mercy and The Simple Truth,1994. His poems are gritty and profound free-verse monologues, one of which is:

THE WATER’S CHANT
By Philip Levine

Seven years ago I went into
the High Sierras stunned by the desire
to die. For hours I stared into a clear
mountain stream that fell down
over speckled rocks, and then I
closed my eyes and prayed that when
I opened them I would be gone
and somewhere a purple and golden
thistle would overflow with light.
I had not prayed since I was a child
and at first I felt foolish saying
the name of God, and then it became
another word. All the while
I could hear the water’s chant
below my voice. At last I opened
my eyes to the same place, my hands
cupped and I drank long from
the stream, and then turned for home
not even stopping to find the thistle
that blazed by my path.

Since then
I have gone home to the city
of my birth and found it gone,
a gray and treeless one now in its place.
The one house I loved the most
simply missing in a row of houses,
the park where I napped on summer days
fenced and locked, the great shop
where we forged, a plane of rubble,
the old hurt faces turned away.
My brother was with me, thickened
by the years, but still my brother,
and when we embraced I felt the rough
cheek and his hand upon my back tapping
as though to tell me, I know! I know!
brother, I know!
Here in California
a new day begins. Full dull clouds ride
in from the sea, and this dry valley
calls out for rain. My brother has
risen hours ago and hobbled to the shower
and gone out into the city of death
to trade his life for nothing because
this is the world. I could pray now,
but not to die, for that will come one
day or another. I could pray for
his bad leg or my son John whose luck
is rotten, or for four new teeth, but
instead I watch my eucalyptus,
the giant in my front yard, bucking
and swaying in the wind and hear its
tidal roar. In the strange new light
the leaves overflow purple and gold,
and a fiery dust showers into the day.

 

WestWords Perfect Pair 30.06.2014

Probably one of the best loved American poets the world over is Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Born in Portland, Maine in 1807, he was one of the five Fireside Poets whose easy rhyme made their work popular and suited to memorisation. His collections include Voices of the Night; Birds Of Passage and from 1850 The Seaside And The Fireside.  This is:

 

SUNRISE ON THE HILLS
By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I stood upon the hills, when heaven’s wide arch
Was glorious with the sun’s returning march,
And woods were brightened, and soft gales
Went forth to kiss the sun-clad vales.
The clouds were far beneath me; bathed in light,
They gathered mid-way round the wooded height,
And, in their fading glory, shone
Like hosts in battle overthrown.

As many a pinnacle, with shifting glance.
Through the gray mist thrust up its shattered lance,
And rocking on the cliff was left
The dark pine blasted, bare, and cleft.
The veil of cloud was lifted, and below
Glowed the rich valley, and the river’s flow
Was darkened by the forest’s shade,
Or glistened in the white cascade;
Where upward, in the mellow blush of day,
The noisy bittern wheeled his spiral way.

I heard the distant waters dash,
I saw the current whirl and flash,
And richly, by the blue lake’s silver beach,
The woods were bending with a silent reach.
Then o’er the vale, with gentle swell,
The music of the village bell
Came sweetly to the echo-giving hills;
And the wild horn, whose voice the woodland fills,
Was ringing to the merry shout,
That faint and far the glen sent out,
Where, answering to the sudden shot, thin smoke,
Through thick-leaved branches, from the dingle broke.

If thou art worn and hard beset
With sorrows, that thou wouldst forget,
If thou wouldst read a lesson, that will keep
Thy heart from fainting and thy soul from sleep,
Go to the woods and hills! No tears
Dim the sweet look that Nature wears.