Journey of the Magi (Ts Eliot) : Critical Analysis and Summary

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Journey of the Magi’ has been penned down by Nobel prize winner TS Eliot an is a contrast of experiences based on the nativity of Christ. The monologue describes the journey of the Magi to Bethlahem in search of spiritual pacification and is an account of Eliot’s own conversion to Anglican faith, making the journey and objective correlation for Eliot.

As per the Gospel story, the Magi were the three wise men namely Balthazar- King of Chaldea, Gaspor - King of Ethopia, Melchoir -King of Nubia who belonged to the priestly class of magicians and had come to Bethlahem to pay homage to infant Christ presenting him with gifts of gold, myrrh, and frankincense. They symbolise wandering human souls in search of spirituality, the eternal spiritual quester. The poem, ‘Journey of the Magi’ opens with the nativity sermon of Lancelot Andrews preached in 1622 which describes the hardships Magi faced due to deep ways, sharp weather, meeting snow and hostile conditions which were hard to combat : ‘ A cold coming we had of it/ Just the worst tme of the year’ in ‘the very dead of winter’.The Magus admits that there was introspection promoted for ‘there were times we regretted’ as they had given up materialistic pleasures and sensuality of ‘Summer places on the slope’ and ‘silken girls bringing sherbet.’

Besides wondering whether it was worth the effort, their major issue of search was ignored and the day to day difficulties bogged them down with ‘camelmen cursing and grumbling’, ‘night fires going out’ and ‘villages, dirty and charging high prices’. and they admitted, ‘A hard time we had of it’.

The Magi now ‘preferred to travel all night’ and faced agonising moments of self doubt : ‘voices singing in our ears saying that this was all folly’ before they finally reached a temperate valley.

The second half of the poem abounds in symbolism with the temperate valley signifing the change in their lives that followed the ardous journey. They come across a ‘ running stream’...
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