litost /LEE-tohst/. noun. A Czech word defined by Milan Kundera as “a state of torment caused by a sudden insight into one’s own miserable self,” sometimes accompanied by a desire for revenge…to make another share in the suffering.
“[Litost] designates a feeling as infinite as an open accordion, a feeling that is the synthesis of many others: grief, sympathy, remorse, and an indefinable longing. The first syllable, which is long and stressed, sounds like the wail of an abandoned dog.” (Milan Kundera)
That word litost can also mean too little
to be translated correctly—
a thumbprint as singular as the shade of green
on a grass blade