T.S Eliot’s poem Journey of the Magi describes the physical quest of the three wise men, which correlates to the author’s own spiritual journey of conversion to the Christian faith. Through this concept, it is explored that the notion of journeys are constantly changing and the end product is not always what you expect. It also reveals how the experiences of the journey will affect ones perspective, as the persona’s emotions are never stable. The poem explores the themes of spirituality and death and rebirth through the use of figurative language, imagery and symbolism.
Journey of the Magi is written in blank verse. This maintains the formal metrical structure whilst still giving the author flexibility to write in the manner of natural speech, giving the poem a sense of rhythm and flow. The poem is written as a dramatic monologue from the perspective of one magus, adopting a conversational tone. This perspective creates a personal atmosphere of the speaker’s uncertainty and hardship of the journey of spiritual growth, and allows the reader to fully experience and empathise with the difficulties that the Magi and Eliot have endured in their respective journeys.
The first two stanzas specifically depict the difficulty and hardship of the magi’s journey. The imagery in ‘the very dead of winter’ evokes a sense of death and despair, and highlights the hopelessness that the magi feel in their lives. The sibilance and tactile and gustatory imagery in ‘the summer palaces on slopes, the terraces, / And the silken girls bringing sherbet’, heightens their struggle and temptation of turning back to their old way of life and they begin to doubt their decision of embarking on this journey. Eliot’s use of present participles, such as cursing, running, wanting emphasize the continuity and immediateness of the events. The repetition of ‘and’ enhances the incantatory rhythm, reinforcing their frustration and thus further describing the arduous journey. This constant...
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