Un seul être vous manque et tout est dépeuplé

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  • Cavatine

    Senior Member
    French - France
    My try:

    Only one person is missing and the world seems depopulated/and the world becomes empty.

    And it's from Alphonse de Lamartine.


    New Member
    French - France - Belgium
    To complete the interpretation...

    Actually, that means that when only one person is missing you, you feel like the world is empty... It's only an impression when your mind is focused on the missing of the person...


    Senior Member
    a late but useful reaction I hope:

    Actually, that means that when only one person is missing you, you miss someone, you feel like the world is empty...


    New Member
    Well done Fadi you've got the right answer. If I say " Jamie me manque beaucoup" It means that I miss him I miss Jamie not the other way around. This one was always really tricky to teach to English speakers. So Un seul etre vous manque....I only miss one human being and everything is (feels, seems) deserted. It's from a romantic poem from Lamartine it's always taught in French high schools to espress romantic love, the pain of absence and the sense of isolation as a literary inspiration.


    New Member
    Hello Dear Researchers,

    I read all your translations of this famous sentence from Lamartine and due to the simple fact that I am native from Paris, scored my MBA (HEC) in the land of Moliere, and I’ve been living in United States for the last 20 years, I can tell you this: none of those translations is close enough to have the spirit into the real signification of this beautiful alexandrine. First of all you have to see the hidden words in the magic concept of this sentence. “Un seul Etre vous manque, et tout est dépeuplé” should be read like this “Un seul Etre vous manque et tout est dépeuplé pour vous dans votre propre monde”, the word “tout” is not a literal translation of “all” in English, it is the conceptual translation of “Your World” in this sentence. Therefore the most accurate translation in English of this alexandrine that contains the real spirit of the author should be the following one: “One person is missing, and your world is a desert”.

    You will understand that the word “desert” is the visual result of a “depopulated world” that Lamartine is feeling when his beloved is absent, and it would be a mistake to translate literally word by word this concept simply by saying “and all is depopulated” just because it looks identical to the original French sentence word by word, but it certainly doesn’t capture the spirit neither the concept of the Lamartine’s sentence.

    Again, if “tout” = “your world”, and “depeuplé” = “depopulated world” which = “desert” then you know now how the semantic works for this sentence:
    One person is missing, and your world is a desert = Un seul Etre vous manque, et tout est dépeuplé.

    Language Hound

    Senior Member
    American English
    Welcome to the Forum, Marbelian!

    I personally would never translate a line of poetry in isolation, out of the context of a fully translated poem, as the OP requested.
    Perhaps the OP did not realize that this is a line from Lamartine's poem "L'isolement."

    My interpretation of its meaning is similar to Marbelian's. To me, it means something like:
    Just one person is missing (from your world), and your world becomes a vast wasteland.
    Again, I would like to stress that this is NOT a translation.

    I have, on occasion, allowed for a broader interpretation of "un être" ("a being" instead of just "a person").
    I once sent a beautiful card with this quote on the front to a friend who was grieving the terrible loss of her dog.
    Although I don't think "a dog" is exactly what Lamartine had in mind :D, it did make for quite a wonderful sympathy card!

    @Marbelian: Would I be correct in guessing that your native language is probably French and not English, as listed above at the top right of your post?
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