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Updated: Oct 28, 2022

The word stems from Celtic origin, dating back to the earliest of Welsh poetry , is used in Cornwall too; Hyreth.

We call it 'hiraeth' (hih-(r is rolled) eye- th(soft)

Hir - long

aeth (the past tense of mynd - to go) gone.

Long gone.

But there is no direct English translation.

A view from the A487 from Dolgellau to Corris - mixed media. ©angiekjames2021

Photograph reference by Mark James

Hiraeth is often used in conjunction with homesickness, 'a pull on the heart' , a longing, but also grief, a yearning to be elsewhere, but I don't think that it necessarily means home, just somewhere else, a different time even.

If you've ever spent a length of time in Wales, it will never leave you, most people come back, who wouldn't want to be among the Welsh mountains, the lush green, the slower pace of life, the sea air...but you've got to like the rain, (oh the endless rain!).

After the birth of my first son, it was decided that we would move away from Leicester. Although I love the city life, I was also desperate to get back to the countryside. I have lived in both the North and the South and both are very different. In the North, the landscape is harsh, grey from the surrounding slate quarries and rocky mountains. Although there are some very beautiful areas and better castles. The Welsh language is more prominent and harsher than the Welsh spoken in the South, which is almost half English. The landscape there is pleasing on the eye, rolling hills, green pastures. Pembrokeshire is where we ended up. Apart from my short time in Scotland, this is where I spent my young childhood. Where my dad grew up and a lot of my family still around.

It's a completely different way of life, The Pembrokeshire Promise says it all - the promise is, is that it will be done by Wednesday - without giving which Wednesday exactly!

View from my studio of the Preselies, painted in inks on cheap watercolour paper.

The image I have in my head is more abstract, a kind of dreamy, wistful, glimpse of something, as 'hiraeth' is. I have always enjoyed adding the details to a painting, but this one calls for a more abstract approach.

I also don't want to paint it on paper, but rather on things I find,maybe wood, leaves, or sandpaper...

I remember my dad telling me once that when he was younger, living in a tiny, tiny village in Pembrokeshire, paper was scarce, so he would unravel lollipop sticks and draw on those.

The final piece, on a second hand painting, acrylic and pastel on wood

I nearly gave up with this one, I just couldn't seem to achieve the image I had in my head. I had many breaks, so I didn't end up forcing it. Practicing skies, clouds, distant mountains, trying different mediums until I found the one that works. I found a painting in a charity shop, an already framed piece of wood and recycled it. I much prefer to work with ink and watercolour, but it's always good to step out of your comfort zone once in a while.


the dreams come hard and fast,

fleeting memories of the past,

but not like nostalgia or childhood things,

like the echo of a church bell, when it rings.

a ghost, a glimpse, that's just out of view,

of a time that maybe, you think you once knew.

subliminal messages flash on the screen,

it's calling, calling from mountains green.

it's the sun breaking through the clouds as they roam

and the wind that picks me up to carry me home.

it's in the call of the curlew in the morning mist

and in the lips of every lover I've kissed.

i don't know how to explain the meaning

of a word that only conveys a feeling,

it's in the eyes of a baby as she's watching her mother,

in the love for friends you call sister and brother.

in the delight of seeing foxes, hunting at night,

or a buzzard gliding, up, up and out of sight.

wishing you were there upon her wings,

above the giants and mighty kings.

like the single note of a song that touches your heart

and gently, ever so gently pulls it apart,

in the same way the moon coaxes the tides to ebb and flow,

it's a pull on the soul, it's time to go.


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