Excerpt from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sehnsucht is a German noun translated as "longing", "yearning" or "craving" or in a wider sense a type of "intensely missing."
The stage director and author Georg Tabori called Sehnsucht one of those quasi-mystical terms in German for which there is no satisfactory corresponding term in another language. Sehnsucht is a compound word, originating from an ardent longing or yearning (das Sehnen) and addiction (die Sucht). However, these words do not adequately encapsulate the full meaning of their resulting compound, even when considered together.
Sehnsucht represents thoughts and feelings about all facets of life that are unfinished or imperfect, paired with a yearning for ideal alternative experiences. It has been referred to as “life’s longings”; or an individual’s search for happiness while coping with the reality of unattainable wishes. Such feelings are usually profound, and tend to be accompanied by both positive and negative feelings. This produces what has often been described as an ambiguous emotional occurrence.
It is sometimes felt as a longing for a far-off country, but not a particular earthly land which we can identify. Furthermore there is something in the experience which suggests this far-off country is very familiar and indicative of what we might otherwise call "home". In this sense it is a type of nostalgia, in the original sense of that word.
At other times it may seem as a longing for a someone or even a something. But the majority of people who experience it are not conscious of what or who the longed for object may be, and the longing is of such profundity and intensity that the subject may immediately be only aware of the emotion itself and not cognizant that there is a something longed for.
The experience is one of such significance that ordinary reality may pale in comparison, as in Walt Whitman's closing lines to "Song of the Universal":
Is it a dream?
Nay but the lack of it the dream,
And failing it life's lore and wealth a dream
And all the world a dream.