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Saudade is a difficult word to define because it involves a lot of feelings such as loneliness, craving, and pain. Bell, a Portuguese writer, describes saudade as “a vague and constant desire for something that does not and probably cannot exist, for something other than the present, a turning towards the past or towards the future; not an active discontent or poignant sadness but an indolent dreaming wistfulness."[i]

However, you do not necessarily feel saudade only for impossible things, but also for things that are in your reach. I feel saudade of Portugal, my homeland. Saudade, loosely translated, denotes longing, melancholy, or nostalgia.

Saudade is a Portuguese word that doesn’t have an equal word in English in sense, in meaning, and in power. I tried to find a similar word in English, but I couldn’t find any, nor could I find an equivalent in Italian, French, or Spanish. The term connotes a meaning that is irrevocably lost in translation According to the American School of Rio de Janeiro, “the word may come from Portuguese navigators who discovered most of the world, and who spent long lonely years sailing the high seas away from their homes. The word ‘saudade‘ comes from the Latin word ‘solitas‘ (loneliness)."[ii] However, saudade is not only used to express aloneness or homesickness, but also used to express nostalgic memories of people who you like. In addition, I think that saudade is remembering a special place, is feeling again a distant or extinct sense, and is reminding unforgettable moments.

Saudade is what you feel when you miss someone. You can feel saudade of your relatives, friends, someone who died, or even someone that you do not see for just a weekend. Saudade is the desire to see or have a company of an important person for you. It is what I feel when I remember my friends back in Portugal. Saudade is when you do not know what to do with the days that became longer because of the absence of someone. It is a bittersweet longing for being in a special place with someone again.

Saudade is what you feel when you remember a special place. It is to think about the bedroom that had an old, but comfortable bed, to imagine if the tree that you used to climb when you were ten years old still exists, or to visualize the most beautiful beach that you had ever known. Saudade happens when you close your eyes and have a sight of places that you crave to be. It can be a waterfall of your childhood, a place that you had traveled, or a kitchen where your grandmother prepared those delicious rolletas (Spanish snack).

Saudade is what you feel when you want to feel a certain sense again. Have you desired to eat a meal that the only person who knows how to make it had passed away? Or have you ever craved to have a dessert, which you had in a travel, and you cannot find it anywhere? What do you feel when you want to see a person that you love again? For example, I feel saudade of my family, saudade to feel the sea air on my body, and to watch the sunset from the train on my way to the basketball practice in Lisbon. Saudade happens when you listen to an old song, and it makes you remember good times.

Sometimes you want to come back to the past to revive a special time again such as your childhood, your graduation day, or a certain time that you spent together with someone. Good times always will be in our memory, and saudade is remembering these times. Since I have come to the U.S., I’ve missed my family, my country and my culture a lot. Saudade is wanting to go back to those happy times, those treasured memories.

Basically, saudade for me is when you feel the presence of the absence. Saudade is when you enjoy memories, or when you want to be close to someone who is far away. Sometimes, this feeling is only for a moment, but it can be so strong that you feel tears in your eyes. I would say that saudade is a feeling that exists in every human creature’s hearts. They can be of any race, of any part of the world, or of any social status. Saudade can come slowly or strongly, and it arrives when it is not waited. Saudade is friend of the solitude, inseparable companion of love, invisible visitor of the friendship, comrade of distant senses, and a buddy of affection and tenderness moments. It is an absent or forever lost, accompanied by the desire to see or possess them once more. Saudade is what I am feeling now, and probably you are feeling it too.


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