The lyric of “Of Missingness” is a brief attempt to express in English the feelings evoked by the Portuguese word, “saudade.” The word has no direct translation into English but I heard one Portuguese woman say the closest way of expressing it might be, “missingness.”

Jasmine Garsd, writing on the NPR website, explained it like this: “Perhaps my favorite of these elusive words is saudade, a Portuguese and Galician term that is a common fixture in the literature and music of Brazil, Portugal, Cape Verde and beyond. The concept has many definitions, including a melancholy nostalgia for something that perhaps has not even happened. It often carries an assurance that this thing you feel nostalgic for will never happen again. My favorite definition of saudade is by Portuguese writer Manuel de Melo: “a pleasure you suffer, an ailment you enjoy.”

I feel like I have written many songs, starting when I was very young, that feel like this, though I didn’t know the word…

Jeff Kelly


Of Missingness

Beauty, fading like a flower
In the fog of some lost hour
Stuck forever in the fall

Freezes like a memory in a mirror
Lost forever though it’s clearer
Than no memory at all

Of some place I’ll never go
Of some face I’ll never know
At the end of the rainbow of missingness

Valentina, Valentina, men have loved you
More than all the stars above you
More than I could ever know

I didn’t want you, didn’t need you, didn’t wish you
So why is it then I miss you
Like some love from long ago

From some place I’ll never go
Is some face I’ll never know
At the end of the rainbow of missingness

© St. Brigid Publishing/BMI


released February 23, 2020
Phil Hirschi: Cellos