TS Eliot Journey Of The Magi Analysis Essay Example
TS Eliot Journey Of The Magi Analysis Essay Example

TS Eliot Journey Of The Magi Analysis Essay Example

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  • Pages: 7 (1857 words)
  • Published: October 5, 2017
  • Type: Analysis
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T. S. Eliot's poem "Journey of the Magi" presents a different perspective on the wise men's journey to see baby Jesus. The commonly known biblical version does not portray any difficulties or hardships during their travel. However, in Eliot's poem, the wise men faced numerous challenges that made their journey difficult. They traveled in winter, riding on smelly camels, and the camel handlers did not provide any comfort. The speaker, one of the Magi, describes the harsh winter conditions they encountered and mentions missing home and the luxuries they left behind. They traveled through snow, unfriendly towns, and grumbling assistants. They often had to sleep while on the move, as they were eager to reach their destination as quickly as possible. Despite their excitement about the birth, the


speaker also expresses a sense of unhappiness. The birth of this new leader signifies a sort of death to them, as they know it will greatly impact their lives. Seeing the baby profoundly changed the way they lived from that moment on.The Wise Men observed that people in their lands were "clutching their gods," but found no satisfaction in it. It seems to me that the Wise Men believed this because the speaker states, "I should be glad of another death." The Magi who is speaking must have realized that the Hebrew Prophets were correct in predicting the birth of the King of the Universe, which would bring about a change in the way the world works and believes. The Magi anticipates the death of the infants so that he can be reborn. The birth and death being referred to here is not just the birth of

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the child or the Magi's own death; it encompasses the birth of a new belief and the death of the infants. After returning home, they feel that something has changed. The Magi's lands are no longer at ease. The speaker leads me to believe that there was a stirring in the entire world, which made them feel uneasy. The imagery in the poem captivates and makes one feel that the Wise Men must have really desired to witness the new baby. This poem confuses me because I want to know the whole story. T. S. Eliot expands on this narrative in a vast manner. "Journey of the Magi" is a poem about a transformative journey undertaken by a few individuals and provides insight that only a great poet could perceive.The soliloquy "Journey of the Magi" by Grover Smith is about an adult male who has made his own choice and achieved belief in the Incarnation. However, he is still connected to the life that the Redeemer came to reject, similar to Gerontion. He feels trapped between two lives, oppressed by a sense of death-in-life. He is willing to accept "another death" as his final escape from his previous worldly desires and beliefs. The Birth and Death have not given him hope for a new life, but have instead shown him the hopelessness of his old life. He is resigned rather than joyful, fully absorbed in denying his former existence but not yet physically free from it. Unlike Gerontion who waits for rain in this life and hollow men who desire eyes in the next life, the speaker has moved beyond both sensory pleasures and the

affirming symbol of the Child. He has reached a state of wanting nothing. His negation may be partly ignorant because he does not fully understand how the Birth is a Death or comprehend the sacrifice involved. Instead, he himself has become the sacrifice, symbolically representing his emotional journey even if not yet rationalized. This low, negative stage is a mystical progression that would be necessary for union. However, in his current circumstances, he cannot fully focus on mystical experience due to his willpower limitations.Because of his status and appearance, he symbolically corresponds to the seeker as described by St. John of the Cross in The Ascent of Mount Carmel. He first approached the affirmative symbol, or rather, the affirmative world. However, he has experienced failure and now considers negation as his secondary option. Eliot described the Magi's quest for the Christ child, a difficult and arduous journey against nature and human hostility, in conversational phrases adapted from Lancelot Andrewes' discourses on the Birth. It was a cold and harsh time of year, with deep roads, crisp weather, short days, and a distant sun during the winter solstice. Eliot's thoughts were also influenced by the grand oriental processions and camel caravans described in St.-J. Perse's Anabase. He had himself started working on an English translation of the poem in 1926 and published it in 1930. Other elements of his tone and imagery may have come from Kipling's "The Explorer" and Pound's "Exile's Letter." The water factory mentioned recalls his own past, as he speaks about certain recurring images charged with emotion in his work The Use of Poetry."He witnessed the sight of six bullies playing cards

through an open window during the dark at a small French railroad junction, near a water-mill. This incident serves as a proleptic symbol, foreshadowing the Crucifixion with the mention of three trees against the low sky, along with the depiction of an old white horse. The transition at this point is simple yet powerful. Next, we arrived at a tavern adorned with vine-leaves over the entrance. Six hands were eagerly waiting at the open door, ready to receive pieces of silver. Additionally, there were people kicking empty wine-skins with their feet. These references allude to various Christian motifs such as the Communion (represented through the tavern ‘bush’), the paschal lamb whose blood was smeared on Israel's door headers, Judas' betrayal, Christ's humiliation before the Crucifixion, and soldiers offering vinegar to Jesus on the Cross. The story further hints at the pilgrims at the open grave in the garden. The arrival of the Magi at the Nativity scene is merely seen as a "satisfactory" experience, although it has been foreshadowed by fresh flowers and a factory 'beating the darkness'. The narrator has witnessed these events but doesn't fully comprehend their significance. He accepts the concept of Birth but is puzzled by its resemblance to Death since he has encountered death before. All these events happened a long time ago, and though he remembers them vividly, he feels inclined to question whether they were led there for Birth or for Death or perhaps both."Neither Birth nor Death? Whose Birth or Death was it? Was it their own or someone else's? The uncertainty leaves him bewildered and unenthused by the brilliance of the unusual revelation. So he and

his companions have returned to their own Kingdoms, where they no longer feel at ease in the old ways. A foreign people have taken over their Gods, which are now foreign Gods, and they are still not free to experience "the dispensation of the grace of God." The speaker has reached the end of one world but, despite accepting the revelation as valid, he cannot see into a world beyond his own.

From T. S. Eliot's Poetry and Plays: A Study in Sources and Meaning, written by Robert Crawford in 1956. "Journey of the Magi," written by Eliot in 1927, includes quotes from Eliot's 1926 study "Lancelot Andrewes" and memories from Eliot's own life (some of which he documented in The Use of Poetry and the Use of Criticism). It also reflects his struggle with the primitive, similar to "The Hollow Men" and parts of The Waste Land. The poem is set in a desert, although the traditional landscape is indirectly mentioned through details of "the camels galled, sorefooted, refractory." The poem deliberately breaks conventions by omitting references to gold, frankincense, and myrrh but still aligns with Eliot's earlier poetry, albeit in a less dramatic manner.The decision made in "Journey of the Magi" is just as revealing as before. The reader becomes aware that, like Nemi, the birth of the new priest-king signifies the end of the old order, a complete universe order, as "this Birth was / Hard and painful torment for us, like Death, our death". The mentioned "Kingdoms" are reasonable in the context of the poem, but they also bring to mind Eliot's work on "death's other Kingdom" and "death's dream kingdom". Although

the poem has explicit Christian themes, it represents a bridge between earlier and later works, allowing readers (with access to the Gospel word) to navigate towards the liberation of Christianity, the new birth. However, without that access, the speaker can only find relief in death to escape having to return to the old way in which he is "no longer at ease". This old way, "With an alien people clutching their gods", looks back to the primitive world that Eliot had been exploring - a world trapped in the rituals of birth, intercourse, and death. The word "clutch" carries strong sexual connotations in Eliot's work, as seen when Saint Narcissus writhes "in his own grasp". Eliot had criticized Wundt for disregarding sexuality's role in religion. In "Journey of the Magi", however, there is birth and death but not sexual intercourse. The reader is confronted with a denial of both the sexuality associated with primitive rituals and, for the moment at least, modern sexuality.Vickery's focus on flora mentions in The Golden Bough overemphasizes their significance. He associates the "temperate vale smelling of vegetation" with a "running stream" in order to create a peculiar scene. He also argues that the "water-mill" is the one in which Tammuz was ground, symbolizing the connection between death and rebirth. These references may hint at themes of fertility rituals, which can be seen as a continuation of earlier poetry. However, it is essential to recognize that Christianity, presented as an escape from Frazerian rhythms of fertility, is not just a continuation of them. The paragraph highlights the lack of a profound vision of experience and the use of repetitive language, which

keeps the narrative grounded in cliches of romantic travelers. Only at the beginning and end is there something to captivate the attention of modern readers who are aware of what the Magi did not know. Their "cold coming" could also suggest the approaching coldness associated with Jesus himself.The carols now present it in a different light. Once considered mere folly, it is now seen as a Christian paradox, as they sought Christ. We feel pressured to provide the meaning they missed, which increases throughout the rest of the poem. The images in the middle paragraph hold symbolic value, although their true meaning is unknown and represents depths of feeling we cannot understand. They possess a dream-like clarity and easily lend themselves to allegorical interpretation, such as the valley of life or the three crosses of Calvary. The mystery contained within these images is replaced by the Christian mystery when viewed through this lens. Similarly, in the final paragraph, we directly encounter abstract ideas. The Magus is perplexed by the contradictions of Birth and Death and simply wishes for death.

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