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Pen-y-cloddiau7 by Xusa at Flickr

I was talking with a friend about the approach of Autumn, and how it brings a sense of restlessness, introspection, wistfulness, yearning… We agreed that there didn’t seem to be any word in the English language that described it, although from my years living in rural North Wales, I knew the Welsh word hiraeth to mean just that.

Y Geiriadur has a very concise definition, as you might expect, whilst Wikipedia fares little better. But this description by Jessica Boynton appeals to me because of its very lyrical, undictionarylike quality:

The legendary lore of the Welsh… beautiful words expressing a somber sadness, an ache, a hiraeth. The Welsh long for home, yearn for the Wales of the past… the Wales of warriors and peace, the days of danger and beauty. But this home has long since vanished under the rule of a foreign force, and the few left to remember it live in a community threatened by linguistic and cultural extinction.


The sense of loss that comes from having been separated from one’s home; missing the feeling of being home, of having a place.

I’m not sure that any place I’ve lived has really felt like ‘home’ to me; for much of my life I’ve been rootless, living a couple of years here, a couple of years there. But I think that living in North Wales was probably about as near as I’ve ever been to calling anywhere ‘home’, albeit in a very tenuous way. And lately I’ve been missing it badly.


Looking towards Ruthin

Ruthin at night from Moel Famau

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