"The Home I've Never Been"
There is a longing,
a homesickness for
a home I've never been
but know in my heart
all the same, held there
warm and bright like
a dust mote floating
in a sunbeam.
It is something like hiraeth,
forward-nostalgia, knowing that
ironically I'll miss the place I am
here-now when I am there-then
being in that which I am missing
so fiercely from here-now.
It is something like Sensucht,
a road-yearning in search of a home
that is somewhere beyond the horizon,
no earthly land that calls the restless feet
but somewhere else ineffably out of reach,
so that it leaves behind an inconsolable longing
that sounds like waves falling on a forlorn beach
the color of cobwebs on an autumn afternoon.
It is something like fernweh,
the farsickness that is the opposite
of homesickness, except that is this too,
a desperate loneliness for neverhome,
an unsatisfied urge to escape the false sense
of belonging and the find true freedom and
self-discovery that wait ... somewhere ...
in a world that is your home.
I know what it is to speak of things
for which there are no words,
as a traveler must build a ship
before taking a voyage asea,
and trying to explain them is like
describing giraffes to people
who have only seen horses.
There is in me a craving
for wild starswept skies and
the cry of the gull on the shore,
for all things far and unfettered and free,
that makes me shake loose my feet in
some ephemeral escape velocity
and go out, out, beyond the mortal ways.
It is there, my neverhome,
plucking at my heartstrings
the way that the north pole
pulls and pulls at a magnet.
I may not be able to get there yet,
some part of me still stitched
into Earth by breath and bone,
but on a clear calm night
I can see it from here.
* * *
"Hiraeth means like nostalgia, homesickness, missing something, that sort of thing. You can have hiraeth for somewhere you’ve never been, or for something that is a “might have been” that didn’t happen, but you can certainly also have it for something real. You can have it at the moment something happens too, which is just so Celtic, you can feel hiraeth for something which is still happening as if it were over."
-- Jo Walton
"Sehnsucht took on a particular significance in the work of author C. S. Lewis. Lewis described Sehnsucht as the "inconsolable longing" in the human heart for "we know not what." In the afterword to the third edition of The Pilgrim's Regress he provided examples of what sparked this desire in him particularly:
That unnameable something, desire for which pierces us like a rapier at the smell of bonfire, the sound of wild ducks flying overhead, the title of The Well at the World's End, the opening lines of "Kubla Khan", the morning cobwebs in late summer, or the noise of falling waves.
Fernweh has been defined as being homesick for a place you've never been, or seeking freedom and discovery.