Cachez de votre main libre


Senior Member
English - Canadian
From a modernist poetic text written in Quebec in the 1980s, the phrase in bold baffles me:

Écrivez, écrivez. Ne lâchez pas votre petite plume; serrez bien vos papiers. Cachez de votre main libre les phrases qui dépassent, appliquez-vous et vour verrez peut-être qu'il arrive de curieuse choses.

The text, a kind of poetic monologue in prose, revolves around memories of doing dictation (dictée) in school. In the passage above, the narrator is the one giving the dictation, but he is also referring to the act of creative writing, in particular free writing (automatisme), and the idea that a writer "takes down" the words he hears in his head.

My attempt:
(...) Brush aside any words that you miss. (...)

My translation of the phrase is bold is just a guess.

Is "cacher de votre main" an idiom?

Or should I read this literally: 'Hide from your free hand...."? But that doesn't make sense: one might use one's free hand to hide one's work from another student, but wouldn't that be "cacher avec votre main libre..."?
Last edited by a moderator:
  • snarkhunter

    Senior Member
    French - France
    You're welcome!

    And I see this more as referring to the parts of the sentences that run beyond the end of lines, but it is not clear whether it's the main body of these sentences that one should hide, or the end bit. Or even all of these sentences...


    Senior Member
    English - Canadian
    Merci, encore, snarkhunter! Your reading of the phrase opens up wonderful poetic possibilities for me to play with. Something like....

    Hide with your free hand the words that go beyond.

    Cover with your free hand the unspoken words. [because the context is a dictation]
    < Previous | Next >