Fado Poetry and Saudade

Fado poetry came before Fado singing, one could say that it brought about fado singing, evokes rich landscapes of the city life of old Portugal; and is designed to be expressive. Fado music is an amazing blend between the poetry and the communicative abilities of the voice, with strong harmonic accompaniment, leading to a rich mixture of word and melody. Fado poetry is said to be expressed by the word saudade which refers to a kind of longing in Portugese.

Amor ciume                Love, Jealousy

Cinzas e lume             Ashes and Fire

Dor e pecado              Sorrow and Sin

Tudo isto existe          All of this exists

Tudo isto e triste         All of this is sad

Tudo isto e fado.         All of this is fado.

– Amalia Rodrigues

Fado Poetry often refers to itself in that, the poet often talks about Fado music itself – about what it is and what it’s not. Fado understands the spirit it wants to be in. The poetry is not about expressing sadness so much as stating it. It represents a kind of experiential existentialism, and articulates poetic suffering.

Saudade, guitarra, love / longing, cities, seafarers, destiny, street cries.


Coração Independente                 Independent Heart

Coração que não commando      Heart that I don’t command

Vive perdido entre e gente           Living lost among the people

Teimosamente sangrado             Stubbornly Bleeding

Coração Independente                 Independent Heart


Ah quanta melancholia!               Oh what melancholy!

Quanta quanta solidão!                So much, so much solitude!

Aquela alma que variza,               That soul, that emptiness,

Que sinto intúil e fria                    That i feel useless and cold

Dentro du meu coração!               Within my heart!

– Amalia Rodrigues


Saudade might not be a translatable word, but is definitely understandable. It is not overstated; it is modest, but underlines everything it sees. It isn’t erupting out – the grief isn’t exploding. It is subtle.

Confesso então que                        I confess I cried

Que julguei por tais                      thinking because of these

Que o fado tinha morrido            Fado itself had died

-Alberto Rodrigues

The atmosphere of Fado poetry is changing with time. The cityscape is changing. The language of modern Fado poetry seems like smoke from early Fado poetry. When the society changes, art has to belong to a time period to keep being consistent. It has to make an effort to hold on to, and stay with antiquity. But in the words of Luís Moita:

Once someone said

That fado put to sleep

Those who heard its moaning

That fado takes away our energies

That it takes away our happiness

That it is a song of the defeated

It is a heresy, it is a sin

To say such things about fado

To make such a statement

If fado is sad, when it is sung

It only brings to tears

Those who have a heart.