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latter-day fado

The Old Guitarist — Pablo Picasso (1881–1973) 

The Art Institute of Chicago- public domain

crippled folding chair tattered hat threadbare but good enough to hold some coin and so the stage is set in the urine-splattered bend of a hollow metro corridor saudade, saudade all is sadness, maddening sadness here he strums his battered guitar she starts her song low and slow a fado full of woe of a life gone wrong saudade, saudade all is longing, solitary longing for what once was before sweetest needle found the vein spoiled the blood to seek refuge from the pain saudade, saudade all is loss, irreparable loss though no one stops a coin or two escape the slipstream of the crowd enough for bread and comfort at the bottom of a bottle saudade, saudade all is oblivion, baneful oblivion and cruel fate


Saudade, saudade… There’s no single way to translate this from Portuguese, no word for word. With its linguistic roots traceable to the Latin “sōlitās” — meaning “loneliness”, or “solitude” — saudade has come to imply a profound emotional state of mind, encompassing a wide spectrum of feelings, such as regret, sadness, melancholy, nostalgia, separation, absence and unfulfilled longing. The by far most powerful artistic expression of saudade is the Portuguese music style “fado” (from Latin “fatum” — “fate, destiny”). Listen to the clip below and you’ll understand… My written poetic attempt, inspired by scenes in the Paris metro, simply pales beside it. Enjoy!

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