Your heart would have responded
Gaily, when invited, beating obedient
To controlling hands

from T.S. Eliot – The Waste Land on Rap Genius


Although the final command issued by the thunder means “control” as in “practice self-control” or “restrain desires,” the “controlling” the speaker describes here seems, ironically enough, more like erotic domination. The lover’s heart is envisioned as a ship that responds beautifully to such domination — or “would have” if the speaker’s fantasy had been fulfilled.

Like the Old English poem ‘The Wanderer’, whose first lines speak of moving ‘by hand’ across the water (i.e. rowing). ‘The Wanderer’ has themes of solitude and keeping silent about strong feelings.

To help improve the meaning of these lyrics, visit “The Waste Land” by T.S. Eliot and leave a comment on the lyrics box