« Ball Cap Earband | Home | Fun with salt and pepper »

August 31, 2005

The Invention of Nostalgia — by Lawrence Raab

Before 1688 nostalgia didn't exist.
People felt sad and thought about home,
but in 1688 Johannes Hofer, a Swiss doctor,
made up the word. It wasn't what he himself
was feeling, but a malady he'd observed

in soldiers posted far from home.
Leeches and opium were the cures,
and if those failed, a return to the Alps.
Therefore: homesickness, nostalgia's symptom,
the way your stomach felt that first night

at summer camp, though if you cried
so hard you had to leave, later
you probably found yourself thinking,
They'd be swimming now, they'd be having lunch.
And you felt sad in a different way.

Imagine how many places you can't
go back to, how much it hurts
to want what's lost — all those days,
the ones that have left
their cloudy pictures in your mind,

and the smell of certain rooms, the light
through trees at certain hours, a time
before the first time you felt it,
like all the years before 1688
when no one had the right word to turn to.

August 31, 2005 at 10:01 AM | Permalink


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference The Invention of Nostalgia — by Lawrence Raab:


in what collection is this poem Invention of nostaglia collected? thank you charley

Posted by: charles conway | Feb 12, 2006 11:13:16 AM

The comments to this entry are closed.