Hiraeth: A sense of longing (pronounced “he-ryth”)
This quote is from an interview on CBC with Pamela Petro, an expert on Welsh language and culture:
“Hiraeth in Welsh is a kind of longing -- a Welsh word with no direct English translation. Similar to “nostalgia,” it is a recognition that there’s a presence of absence in your life. This could be a home place that you don’t have access to, or a family member, or a self that you once were -- a sense of incompleteness, but one that makes life all the more creative and meaningful.”
My work focuses on those glimpses of the past that strike a chord of memory, a sense that what once was tangible reality is now lost, but their presence remains in momentary fragments -- blurred, insubstantial hints of what was once a vibrant present.
This sense of presence and absence is true for both individuals and society: flashes of memory outlined in sadness and filled with wonder at their lingering power to move us, inform us — and invite us to explore our present through the sense of absence they evoke.