I am trying to translate into French the poetic text "The Firstborn", by British author Laurie Lee, a text about the birth of his (second) daughter – Jesse/Jessy – on 30th September 1963. He writes:
"New-born, of course, she looked already a centenarian, tottering on the brink of an old crone's grave, exhausted, shrunken, bald as Votaire, mopping, mowing and twisting wrinkled claws in speechless spasms of querulous doom."
Obviously, the poet plays with/on (?) the verb phrase "to mop and mow", whose meaning I cannot find on any online dictionary... that is the problem with phrases... very often, dictionaries give you the meaning of words, rarely phrases! (Stupid websites: when you enter a search, they all raise their hands: "Me! Me! Ask me!", like eager students... and when you click on the websites, they just answer "I don't know!"!!!)
I am asking you, people, what, then, since – luckily – people are more knowledgeable than websites, is the meaning of the verb phrase "to mop and mow"? Obviously nothing to do with "to mop your brow" and "to mow the lawn"... ?!