(It's my very first question here, and I've only started learning French.)

J’ai cherché un sens à mon existence
J’y ai laissé mon innocence

I have looked for a meaning to my existence
I have left my innocence ...

  1. What does 'y' refer to? It's not just some indefinite 'there', is it?

J’ai fini le cœur sans défense

I have finished with the unprotected heart

  1. Am I correct in inserting the preposition 'with', rather than translating it along the line of 'I have terminated the unprotected heart'?

J’ai bu tant de liqueurs amères
Que j’en ai les lèvres de pierre

I have drunk so many bitter liqueurs that I have lips of stone ...

  1. I would guess that 'en' means 'because of them [those bitter liqueurs]'. If that's the case, what's the logic behind it?

Au gré de nos blessures et de nos désinvoltures
C’est quand on n’y croit plus du tout
Qu’on trouve un paradis perdu en nous

Along the course of injuries and ..., it's when we don't believe in ... anymore that we find a lost paradise in ourselves.

  1. Again, I don't know what 'y' refers to. And the meaning of 'désinvolture' a dictionary has given me (offhand manner, flippancy) doesn't seem to fit. And am I right in translating 'au gré de' as 'along the course of'?
  • 4
    1. “Y” -> “in doing so”; 2. “fini” -> “ended up”; 3. “En” refers to the drinking; 4. “y” -> “in it”. Usually words like "y", "en" refers to previous statements.
    – MorganFR
    Commented May 31, 2016 at 9:25
  • 1
    For 3, I think "I have drunk so many bitter liqueurs that my lips turned to stone" is a translation closer to the original meaning. Commented May 31, 2016 at 9:34

2 Answers 2


The translation you have done doesn't fit the meaning of this text.

  1. I'll try to explain the y. It is used to replace a word, previously used after a preposition.

Here the y is supposed to refer to the existence. BUT I think the author means that, in his quest to search for a meaning to his existence, he lost his innocence. Which means the y refer to the whole sentence, and not only to existence.

For example, "je vais au cinéma...tu y va aussi ?" => I'm going to the cinema.. are you going too ? the y is used to refer to cinema

The other preposition you might want to know about is en. It's the same, but for direct object.

Example : "j'ai mangé une pomme, j'en veux encore une" => I've eaten an apple, I would like another one.The en is used to refer to apple.

  1. About the second sentence, I don't think you understood it right

J'ai fini le coeur sans défense => I ended up with a defenless hearth.

Ask if you don't understand.

  1. I explained you earlier about the "en" ^^

  2. Same here, try to guess what the "y" is referring too ;) désinvolture means offhandedness, if you understand the meaning of it in the sentence.

  • Thank you. (3) So, 'en' refers to the direct object in the preceding clause, which is 'tant de liqueurs améres. But then a preposition seems to be needed here: 'I have lips of stone [...] so many bitter liqueurs'. That's why I guess 'because of'. (4) If 'y' refers to 'au gré de nos ...', then: 'Along the course of injuries and offhandedness, it's when we don't believe in them that we find a lost paradise in ourselves'. Is this correct?
    – Taiki
    Commented May 31, 2016 at 10:25
  • 1
    (3) yes that's it. (4) No, that's why I told you to guess ahah => the translation is "it's when we don't believe in it anymore", the it refer to the search of the meaning of the existence ^^
    – Gautier C
    Commented May 31, 2016 at 11:24

Let me try to answer your questions :)

  1. y refers to his search for a meaning to his existence. Yes, it's an indefinite there, even though it's not really a place, we use it like this.

  2. Yes you're correct, though I would have said an/my instead of the.

  3. En has the meaning of by doing so. The sentence is a metaphore, though I'm not sure I understand it, maybe he can't feel anything with his lips anymore ?

En is a really difficult word to grasp the meaning of. It's usually used to avoid repetitions in a sentence. It replaces what we're talking about.

Tu vois ces pommes ? Je vais en faire de la confiture. | See those apples ? I'm gonna turn them into jam.

Tu te rappelles de son numéro ? Non je ne m'en rappelle plus. | Do you remember his number ? No, I don't remember it.

Je ne sais rien. Question ? Je n'en sais rien. / I don't know anything. I don't know anything about this.

Je ne mange pas. Je n'en mange pas. / I don't eat. I don't eat that (thing we're talking about).

Des lapins ? J'en ai vu plein hier ! / Rabbits ? I saw a lot of them yesterday !

You can add en before almost any verbe.

  1. Désinvolture refers to being bolt. Y refers to the thing he stops believing in (the lost paradise in ourselves).

    Je crois en Dieu. Je n'y crois pas.

/!\ This is not the same meaning of en, here it means in.

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