Analysis of the Journey of the Magi

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The Journey of the Magi by TS Elliot centres around one of the three Wise Men who travelled to Bethlehem shortly after his birth bringing him gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh. The poem has many different hidden meanings but they are all based around a common theme of faith. A common interpretation of the poem is that Elliot wrote about his experiences in converting to Christianity and put them into the context and mind frame of one of the Magi. This interpretation seems to fit very well. In the first section, of which there are three, the magus describes the physical aspects of the "long journey"; the "weather sharp", the "camels galled, sore-footed", "sleeping in snatches." Elliot is discussing the difficulties that he had on his quest for faith. He goes on to tell us about the times that he thought about what he was leaving behind, his old beliefs: "There were times we regretted, The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces, And the silken girls bringing sherbet." Of course, Elliot's old beliefs didn't really have anything to do with silken girls bringing sherbet, but he is expressing the doubt that went through his mind. Perhaps he thought that what he gained at the end of his journey would not be as worthwhile as what he had left, just as the Magi must have thought having left their palaces. Next he tells us of the camel men; "Running away, and wanting their liquor and women", distracted along the way by things of little spiritual value just as people were and still are distracted from their spiritual path by things of little meaning. He talks about the voices: "Singing in our ears, saying That this was all folly." From the magus' point of view, this may be the voices in his own ... ... middle of paper ... ...Birth was Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death." He is of course talking about the death of his old beliefs, his old aspirations. They hold no significance now that he has witnessed something of such magnitude; that of the birth of Christ, of a new set of beliefs forming in his mind, and a new view on what is important in life. "We returned to our places, these Kingdoms, But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation, With an alien people clutching their gods." They have returned to where they once belonged, only to find that they feel like outsiders as the people they knew carry on the way they did before, unaware that an event of such importance has taken place - they do not understand. "I should be glad of another death." The magus (Elliot) feels alone, dejected, perhaps depressed. The death he wishes for is his own.
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