As loneliness slips in beside,
and fills the space where warmth once lay,
in creeps hiraeth in shades of grey;

cuts deep the sheets with sharpened scythe.
Future borrowed from tomorrow
to gladly pay the levied tithe

and have the past rewind/replay
as loneliness slips in beside.




~ Hiraeth is a Welsh word. Like many strong passionate words in the language there is no single English word that adequately translates the meaning of the word but it means a deep sense of longing, a yearning for that which has past, a sense of homesickness tinged with grief or sorrow over the lost or departed.


The piece is written in Octain form, an explanation of which can be found at this link.






Filed under Octain, Poetry

13 responses to “Hiraeth

  1. tommy 2wolvz

    another awesome write !you feel the haunting tide of emptiness or at least i do lol ty great read

  2. lynne

    Even though this is a sorrowful piece, the beauty with which you wrote this piece is somehow comforting.. Hard to explain.

    I really enjoyed this poem a great deal..
    (thank you for reading my piece and please do dig up that piece for me)

    I so enjoy your poetry!!

  3. Brendan

    Celtic longing, I think, has no equivalent, as there is no English equivalent for all the Eskimo words for snow. Maybe it’s that half-aquaean nature of the tongue. “Levied tithe” — or tide — indeed.

  4. Tommy, Lynne and Brendan thanks so much for the great feedback.

  5. I like all the strong images brought out in these words.
    A very potent poem.
    Good one

  6. This is so beautiful, I love your way with words, very original. Great one-shot! Excellent form!

  7. The distance slides between the words, the longing, deep, unyielding. It’s astounding how many words we have for some truly irrelevant things in the English language, and yet, in the evocation of such deep feeling we are caught incapable – while another language can grip it wholly in a single note. Rather enjoyed it, though it strikes the heart with such a shuddering sense of emptiness…well-struck. Very well struck.

  8. Brendan

    I came back to read this again after reading your profile at One Stop Poetry. It’s the first poem I read by you, and in it I heard depths that aren’t found much these days. Re-reading it I hear even more. Emulation may be important, but I say follow your ear where poems like this go. I think you’ll find a very old, grand, majestic music. (Be true to your Welsh.) (p.s., did you ever see “Children of Water,” a tale I retold from a book about Iona from the early 20th century? You might hear hiraeth there. http://tinyurl.com/4lw57wb )

  9. Thanks all for the great comments.

    Chris your feedback is always so insightful, you seem to be able to get to the very heart of my pieces so effortlessly. Do you have a little bit of Celt in your background by any chance my young friend?

    You too Brendan, it’s always so rewarding to know a piece is really ‘felt’ by a reader. In fact so much so that the lovely comment you left me on ‘Wed’ has inspired me to write another piece along the same theme about handfasting. Just polishing it up on the board, will probably post it in a day or two. Thank you for the inspiration.

    I just read ‘Children of the Water’ – beautifully mesmerising and yes, you are right, echoes of hiraeth. It puts me in mind also of one of my favourite poems, Matthew Arnold’s The Forsaken Merman.

  10. Pingback: Travel Journal #2: The Winter Spring | Oran's Well

  11. Becky Kilsby

    there is an uncluttered grace to this poem….clean and full of longing…the form works so well to express this emotion…lilting

  12. Pingback: Hiraeth, a poem | Brandywine Books

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