Weltschmertz – Friday’s Word of the Day Haiku


It’s Friday in most parts of the world right now. I was going to say as I usually do, “Happy Friday” but I can’t assume to know if it is happy where you are. I’m not even sure if I am happy in this moment. Content maybe, but happy? Happiness takes effort. Which brings me to today’s dictionary.com Word of the Day, Weltschmerz. Leave it to the Germans to fashion a word that captures the day in day out ruts that we find ourselves languishing in.

Do you ever wonder if this is all there is? Weltschmerz is “the sorrow that one feels and accepts as one’s necessary portion in life.”

It is also defined as “sentimental pessimism”. As you can imagine, many a writer has penned this word.

Weltschmerz (the w sounds like a “v”) even sounds resigned to a certain apathetic resolve. It is what it is…weltschmerz. It’s a combination word that means “world” (welt) and “pain” (schmerz) first appearing in the 19th century by German Romaric Writer Jean Paul, pen name of Jean Paul Friedrich Richter (1763-1825), in his novel Selina (1827). But it also found its way into English 50 years later and into modern literature by such authors as John Steinbeck, Kurt Vonnegut, Ralph Ellison and Henry Miller.

In researching this word it was described as “obscure German sorrow”, which led me down another wormhole to discover a modern English version of this concept.

Created and written by graphic designer and editor John Koenig, the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows is a melancholic writer’s treasure trove of newly created “feeling” words. It’s an amazing collection. If you want to explore more check out his blog here or better yet check out his YouTube entries; beautiful narrations set to music and photos that illustrate these new words.

Back to weltschmerz and my task for today…to write a Haiku poem. While I can’t presume to know if your day is happy at the very least I can wish you happiness in this crazy spinning world. I hope you have a happy weekend too. 😊

moments slip away
mindlessly lost in weltschmertz
no seizing the day

~kat – 31 March 2017


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