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April 8, 2003 2:53 PM   Subscribe

The Construction Of Memory: Because any description of this webwork would ruin it, let me just say that saudade [please scroll down] is one of the few words I know that entirely befits this moving, bittersweet evocation. Although one of Christina Rossetti's best known poems captures it just as well. [Flash req; poem inside. ]
posted by MiguelCardoso (17 comments total)

 
Remember

Remember me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land;
When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more day by day
You tell me of our future that you planned:
Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.
Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.

Christina Rossetti

[P.S. Btw, hats off to Walrus - MeFi's own, I trust - for the third, "Christina", link.]
posted by MiguelCardoso at 2:56 PM on April 8, 2003


interesting links Miguel.

saudade is a great word it seems, i'd like to find occasion to use it someday.
posted by th3ph17 at 4:17 PM on April 8, 2003


th3ph17: Here, imo, is the best contemporary treatment of saudade (in English) - well worth reading. Vaz's definition is: "A Portuguese word considered untranslatable. One definition: Yearning so intense for those who are missing, or for vanished times or places, that their absence is the most profound presence in one's life. A state of being, rather than merely a sentiment."

Hell, I wrote my Ph.D thesis on Saudade in Portuguese political philosophy and still can't define it. ;)

Listening to this while looking at this image [image 05; can't work out how to link to sound and image simultaneously] made me cry. Don't know why, it reminded me powerfully of Gavin Bryars's heartrending Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 4:28 PM on April 8, 2003 [1 favorite]


Scroll down that last link to listen to an extract from Bryars.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 4:34 PM on April 8, 2003


From the Houaiss Portuguese dictionary:
sentimento mais ou menos melancólico de incompletude, ligado pela memória a situações de privação da presença de alguém ou de algo, de afastamento de um lugar ou de uma coisa, ou à ausência de certas experiências e determinados prazeres já vividos e considerados pela pessoa em causa como um bem desejável
That is,
A more or less melancholy sense of incompleteness, linked to the memory of situations in which one is deprived of the presence of someone or something, or of being far away from some place and thing, or of the absence of certain prior life experiences or pleasures, which the affected person deems desirable.
posted by hairyeyeball at 6:41 PM on April 8, 2003


Frequently used in the plural in ordinary conversation: Manda minhas saudades à molecada: "Send my love to the kids."
posted by hairyeyeball at 6:43 PM on April 8, 2003


Well defined, hairyeyeball. I haven't got Houaiss's dictionary yet - though his Portuguese-English is the one I most use.

Heh - since no one's reading by now, I can post a quiz, organized by Portugal's very official and crusty Instituto Camões, where a couple of paragraphs of mine about saudade, lifted from my latest book, are used for a silly vowel-filling exercise.

Of course, in a very saudade way, I miss the vowels terribly and hated that they took them out. ;)

P.S. This may be a self-link.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 9:11 PM on April 8, 2003


this is beautiful..thanks mig...
posted by amberglow at 9:34 PM on April 8, 2003


Your thesis, Miguel. A URL. Combine the two.

(Also, what's that Portuguese style of music that's linked to saudade? I remember that the World Service once did a programme on it, and it touched me through. Ah, yes, Fado. )

Also:
it may not always be so; and i say
that if your lips, which i have loved, should touch
another's, and your dear strong fingers clutch
his heart, as mine in time not far away;
if on another's face your sweet hair lay
in such silence as i know, or such
great writhing words as, uttering overmuch,
stand helplessly before the spirit at bay;

if this should be, i say if this should be--
you of my heart, send me a little word;
that i may go unto him, and take his hands,
saying, Accept all happiness from me.
Then shall i turn my face and hear one bird
sing terribly afar in the lost lands
Does this qualify? I should think so.
posted by riviera at 10:43 PM on April 8, 2003


Oh yes, riviera! Thanks ever so much for making me even weepier.

Btw, that Paul Vernon book is, although short and expensive, very good. On the cover is the greatest Fado singer of all time - Argentina Santos, still alive at eighty odd, being rude to everybody, singing only when she feels like it, serving the worse food in Lisbon and charging more than Manhattan could bear, but always severing the heartstrings of even the heartiest. Heavy metal melancholy.

I don't think my thesis is online and I'm not presently at a university so I can't search properly. It was called "The Ideology of Lusitanian Integralism: Saudade, Sebastianismo and Portuguese Political Culture", was awarded by Manchester University in 1982 or 83. There should be a couple of copies in John Rylands Library. I graduated from the same uni (BA Econ. First Class Honours) in 1979 under the name Cardoso, MVE. Even got a letter from Jim Callaghan and a mention in The Times, as there hadn't been a First in my field (Government) since God knows when! That should be enough to find it, if you're keen enough. Yeah, thought so... ;)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 11:08 PM on April 8, 2003


[this is good] Thanks, Miguel
posted by plep at 2:38 AM on April 9, 2003


I'm so glad to know that there is a word for the feeling which overcame me yesterday afternoon and evening. Thanks, Miguel.
posted by eilatan at 7:56 AM on April 9, 2003


This is all good, thank you.
posted by Tarrama at 8:35 AM on April 9, 2003


Riviera: This is the only online ref I could find to my thesis. It was such a long time ago I even got the title wrong... You could take it from there, if you wished, by getting in touch with Manchester University's John Rylands Library. Cheers.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 7:21 PM on April 9, 2003


The Rossetti poem is beautiful, as is the idea and the word saudade, but I'd like offer this by way of a reply;

No longer mourn for me when I am dead
Than you shall hear the surly sullen bell
Give warning to the world that I am fled
From this vile world with vilest worms to dwell:
Nay, if you read this line, remember not
The hand that writ it, for I love you so,
That I in your sweet thoughts would be forgot,
If thinking on me then should make you woe.
O! if, I say, you look upon this verse,
When I perhaps compounded am with clay,
Do not so much as my poor name rehearse;
But let your love even with my life decay;
Lest the wise world should look into your moan,
And mock you with me after I am gone.

William Shakespeare
posted by Gamecat at 7:46 PM on April 10, 2003


To which, Gamecat, there's of course no answer. :)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 10:48 PM on April 10, 2003


...
posted by Gamecat at 1:49 AM on April 12, 2003


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