I was neither
Living nor dead
Does Eliot have The Odyssey in mind in this passage? At the end of book 5, Odysseus, nearly dead, is washed up on the shore of Scheria. He gathers wood (arms full), then falls asleep (his eyes fail).
In his epic journey, he has travelled from the realm of the dead (book 10, but in the past) on his way back to the land of living (real, domestic life, with Penelope and Ithaca). Scheria is halfway between these two: it’s populated by mortals, but has divine characteristics (a garden that bears fruit all year round, as in the Golden Age; ships steered by thought). When Odysseus awakes and meets Nausicaa, Athena “from his head made the locks to flow in curls like unto the hyacinth flower.”
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