Journey of the magi by T.S Elliot is a narrative given by the narrator to describe a journey he had together with other magi to witness an event. He tells the story by remembering the events of the journey and the hardship they underwent so they could reach their destination. The background of this poem is the biblical story of the journey of the wise men to witness the birth of Jesus Christ. The narrator seems to be one of the wise men, he recalls how the journey was hard, and painful to the people they were travelling. At the end of the poem, he seems disappointed and regretful to an extent he wishes for his death literally (Elliot,1927).
T.S Elliot was a renowned writer in England and made a significant contribution to poetry; he studied in Harvard University, and later relocated to England. He published many poems and even became a critic for other poets. He wrote and published Journey of Magi in 1927. It is more religious as T.S Elliot wrote it shortly after becoming a Christian (Eliot, 2010). Although the story does not mention any religious acts of the biblical event of birth of Jesus, he uses symbolism to refer to crucifixion, betrayal of Jesus and Jesus himself. In the poem Jesus is not referred anywhere or his parent and even the star that guided the wise men is not mentioned at all and this makes it imaginative. The main point of this poem is to show the transformation that happened to other religions when Christianity was born that is the birth of Jesus Christ. The narrator is not sure whether the birth of Jesus was good or bad as it marked the end of a certain era and a beginning of a new one (Elliot, 1927).
The Journey of Magi has four stanzas and they all have the flowing events of the journey. The narrator starts with a quote, which explains the hardships of travelling during winter. He actually says it is the worst time of the year and he even recalls the regrets they felt for travelling all the way. The poem describe magis home as palaces with good summer weather and silken girls serving sherbet and this made them miss home and regret for travelling all the way (Elliot.
However, they continue with the journey. In the second stanza, the narrator recalls how the camel men abandoned them, as they preferred fun to the journey with its hardships. Nevertheless, they continued travelling and it was crueler as they experienced night-fires, lack of shelter, unfriendly foreigners, dirty and expensive inns. The poem clearly shows the hardships the magus has had to undergo so they could experience the birth of a king. It further explains their doubt about the journey and that it is all for nothing for them to travel all that way (Elliot, 1927). However, they are persistent to continue with the journey even more and they are compelled to find out about the birth of the savior.
The poem is a free verse poem where the author does whatever he wants to convey the message of the poem. He uses imagery and figurative language to describe their journey. For instance, the third stanza they reach a temperate valley, which shows the weather, was better and there was plantation and running streams. The poem uses repetition to emphasize on the image of the temperate valley. In this stanza, the magis look for the specific location of their destination and they finally reach but there is no excitement upon arriving as he says it was satisfactory.
In the last stanza, the narrator has no regrets for travelling that far and experiencing all those hardships as he say he would do it again. The poem set the mood of complains but the narrator does not direct resentment towards the journey. He is rather not sure of the future and that uncertainty makes him wish for his own death. As he experiences the birth of Jesus, which is the Birth of Christianity he knows that his culture, religion, and places of leadership that himself is holding would end. That makes him conclude the birth of Jesus Christ was bitter agony for them just like death. The poem takes a lyric form when the author expresses his feeling towards this birth as the bitterness involved with it makes him wish he was dead literally (Elliot, 1927).
Eliot, T. S., Voeten, B., & Pauwels, H. (1927). Journey of the Magi (pp. 1909-1950). Faber & Gwyer.
Eliot, T. S. (2010). The waste land and other poems. Broadview Press.
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