(©Tim Davis, 2007)


Hiraeth is a Cymraeg (Welsh) word which doesn't translate well into English. It is a deep longing for home. This poem makes an attempt at defining it. It is pronounced with two syllables. The first is like the English here except that the r is stronger. The second syllable is like how a mathematician would pronounce i-th as in the ith row of a matrix. You could also say eye-th.

With a last name of Davis, it should be no surprise that my Davis ancestor was born in Wales in the early 1600's. I found this out several years after writing this poem.  The westward theme is in the poem because going home to Cymru (Wales) means traveling west (from, say, England).

My poem Hiraeth provided inspiration to two artists, Stephanie Jane Rampton and Danielle Creenaune, whose collaborative work Hiraeth appears in an art show in Australia in July/August 2016.

The poem has recently been put to music by Roger Ames, a Pulitzer-nominated composer.  The piece has been published by Gia Music, in both SATB and TTTB versions.

Hiraeth beckons with wordless call,
Hear, my soul, with heart enthrall'd.
Hiraeth whispers while earth I roam;
Here I wait the call "come home."

Like seagull cry, like sea borne wind,
That speak with words beyond my ken,
A heartfelt cry with words unsaid,
Calls a wanderer home instead.

I heed your call, Hiraeth, I come
On westward path to hearth and home.
My path leads on to western shore,
My heart tells me there is yet more.

Within my ears the sea air sighs;
The sunset glow, it fills my eyes.
I stand at edge of sea and earth,
My bare feet washed in gentle surf.

Hiraeth's longing to call me on,
Here, on shore, in setting sun.
Hiraeth calls past sunset fire,
"Look beyond, come far higher!"

The piece was premiered by Westminster Voices in Princeton, NJ.  It was performed in April 2018 by the Men’s Glee Club of Wheaton College (video below).  My son, Timothy Davis, is in the middle of the middle row, wearing glasses, in the screenshot below.  I was privileged to be able to attend the performance (that’s me standing up in the front row at the end, at the request of the director, Dr. Mary Hopper).