“Your arms full, and your hair wet, I could not Speak, and my eyes failed, I was neither
Living nor dead, and I knew nothing,
Looking into the heart of light, the silence.”
There are so many layers to this poem, so I’m just going to focus on what I can see from just the beginning passage that speaks to me. There are instances such as above where the speaker wants to communicate but cannot convey his feelings through words or sounds. His visage is ‘neither...Living nor dead’ and so he lives in a trance or shocked state. Why can he not speak, why do his eyes not work? He had a closeness with the woman that is now a mental/emotional chasm he cannot cross. Is Eliot referring to PTSD or something else that haunts him? What I can glean from this passage is the speaker must be under severe psychological strain that is a metaphorical coffin he can’t escape.
The line ‘looking into the heart of the light, the silence’ with failed eyes, he knows is there, but does he see this or not? I’m not sure. I can only speculate what he means by ‘heart of the light’ in the poem. Does he mean his relationship with the woman, the goodness in others or love? I believe based on the speaker’s words he has an inability to recognize this connection, and his fugue state is the cause of it. When there is ‘silence’ there is an emptiness in him, and he can’t respond. What should be fleeting moments of happiness being reunited with the woman he loves are lost because his mind his too mentally scarred with other impressions to absorb them.