Journey Of The Magi – Poetry Essay


T.S. Elliot compiled Journey of the Magi in 1927 after he converted to Anglican. The Journey of the Magi denotes a foremost change in T.S. Elliot career. The poem is a theatrical monologue of aspiration, purpose, and intricacy and is consequently appropriate to read aloud. The poem indicates Eliot’s feelings, and thoughts towards conversion, although the poem is not about Eliot. The Journey of the Magi expounds the views, and opinions of one of the Three Wise Men. The Journey of the Magi occurs and transpires before the three wise men get to the manger (Kennedy, & Gioia, 2009). The poem gives details on the adversity, and the suffering of the journey, the uncertainty of the Three Wise Men, and the background of Bethlehem. In this essay, I look at how Eliot uses different themes, symbolism, allegory, imagery and quotes to develop the poem and illustrate about the birth of Jesus Christ.

The poem starts with an extract about a journey, which is difficult and cold one. The title of the poem suggests that this is the journey of the Three Wise Men that visited Jesus. The poem continues to intricate, and explains on the hardships of the journey, involving unfriendly and expensive towns, insufficient places to sleep, irritable camels, and the fire goes out (Shmoop Editorial Team, 2008). Eliot comments and explains that the Three Wise Men chose to travel during the night, and they felt that the journey was fruitless and in vain. The writer also indicates of the Magi’s appearance in Bethlehem, a place the narrator denotes as “a temperate Valley” in the 21st line. The villagers are not aware of the place where Jesus will be born, and therefore, they are unable to direct the Three Wise Men. However, the Magi finally locate the manger, which they have to witness the birth of Jesus. The last stanza of the poem indicates that the Magi are recalling the story, and in their remembrance the Magi are uncertain and unsure if the birth of Jesus was a good or bad thing. The Magi substitutes and reinstates the birth of Jesus with their traditions, and religion, as in the end the Magi consider and regard the birth of Jesus as a bad thing. Also, the Magi desires for their death together with the death of their peoples old culture and religion.

Theme of the Poem

The Journey of the Magi describes three major themes; the first theme that I will explain is the theme of suffering. The poem starts and ends with suffering, and the Three Wise Men endure the unfriendly people, and also the bad weather. The poem also depicts emotional and mental affliction of the dying ethnicity and traditions. Also, the sufferings predict of the mental and physical anguish that Jesus will undergo as he grows up to become the Messiah. The poem illustrates that belief and holiness circles are suffering and the afflictions produce change and transformation in religion. Further, the poem depicts the theme of religion (Shmoop Editorial Team, 2008).The poem is about the birth of Jesus, the three wise men, and the Biblical insinuation and citation. Finally, the poem also illustrates the theme of tradition and culture; the poem describes and swabs a dead tradition and culture. The poem depicts an end of the culture of the Magi, and also the imminent and future doom of the birth of Jesus. Also, the Journey of the Magi is a poem that confronts the traditions and culture of a society.

The Setting

The setting of the poem is in the today Saudi-Arabia around the Persian Gulf, and towards the current Israel and the Mediterranean. From the second stanza, and line 17, 18, and 21, in particular, states that the three wise men use two days to journey from Bethlehem (Shmoop Editorial Team, 2008). Therefore, the content and the background of the poem occur in the valley that comprise of Jerusalem and Bethlehem. The setting of the poem is symbolic as it depicts a remote place and uncivilized geographical area that is visited by rich and affluent people. In the last stanza, the Magus speaks of the kingdoms he had visited as his journey to witnesses the birth of Jesus. This indicates that although the setting is luxurious, the Magus concedes and yields of his story.

The Title

The title of the poem is important and vital as the title of the poem sounds like the “The Gift of the Magi that is the classic short story by O. Henry. The title of the Journey of the Magi is vital and imperative as it depicts figurative travel (Shmoop Editorial Team, 2008).This means, the transformation from pagan to Christianity, also the title illustrates the conversion that Eliot underwent from doubter to a committed and spiritual Christian. Finally, the title is versatile and compressive as it illustrates various purposes and explains different changes and transformation in life. Further, the speaker in this poem is on one level. The poem is set up as one of the wise men travelling to witness the birth of Jesus. The narrator is sad and solemn and speaks about the far away and the long ago. The poem depicts a theatrical monologue.


In conclusion, Journey of the Magi is a symbolic poem that illustrates the suffering and afflictions that Christians undergo after the conversion. It also illustrates the thoughts, the feelings and the perception that Eliot experienced after his conversion. This poem marked a new and a fresh start of Eliot’s life and career. The lesson in this poem is vital and imperative to the modern Christian and society, as it describes the changes and transformation.

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