This phrase did not elicit, in me as a post graduate student, the nuanced expression of a female caught in the expression of a prohibited thought to which her mind had involuntarily leapt, when my professor was expatiating on one of the poems of e.e.cummings.
The poem was TOUCH WITH MY MIND by e.e.cummings. There were poems of e.e cummings and Alan Ginsberg prescribed, which were more explicit and appealed to our callow sensitivities, but with time and age a certain subtlety is appreciated better. I am impelled to reproduce the poem below for the readers of this blog, as I feel it would be a great injustice to leave the blog tantalizingly poised without the proof of the poem.
Lady, i will touch you with my mind.
Touch you and touch and touch
until you give
me suddenly a smile,shyly obscene
(lady i will
touch you with my mind.)Touch
you,that is all,
lightly and you utterly will become
with infinite care
the poem which i do not write.”
Explaining a poem is the most preposterous thing to do! It is not WHAT THE POET MEANT AT THE TIME OF PENNING THE POEM, BUT IT IS WHAT THE POEM MEANS TO ANYONE WHO CARES TO READ IT- AT ANY POINT OF TIME! (If anyone has any doubts about it plz try reading CHILDE ROLAND TO THE DARK TOWER CAME and I am sure, despite myriad interpretations, none would match the mind-set of Browning when he penned it- that is if he had cared to explain it!)
The beauty about this SHYLY OBSCENE expression is that it would be on the face of a person only for a flash and that moment has to be frozen, magnified and prolonged for one to appreciate it. This, e.e cummings elicits in the lady through persistent intrusion with his mind on the lady. An intrusion which is not violative, yet perceptible and the lady “responds” to that ‘mental touch’ with this SHYLY OBSCENE expression. There was this “suddenness” to her expression which had to be “captured” by the poet.
I am sure that this poem is not only delicately sensitive, but also shows the GENTLEMANLY MANLINESS of the poet. The male instinct to impress and seek intrusion is the law of the nature, but to be cowed down by the unattainable beauty or mental moat built by women, is not uncommon. But here the poet is persistent and breaches her moral barriers and glimpses the momentary gushing womanliness in two words.
e.e cummings has left behind a disparate combination of words poignantly expressing that expression, which any gentleman would have drawn from his beloved!