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Influence of "Journey of the Magi" by T. S. Eliot
The poem narrates the journey of the magi to see the birth of Christ. Traditionally, the magi in this tale are filled with a sense of wonder and excitement more than the new king. They travel from afar and bring the finest gifts like gold, frankincense and myrrh. In Eliot’s “Journey of the Magi,” the magi are not characterized by the same sense of wonder and enthusiasm they execute the journey with out full understanding or interest. The gifts that are traditionally linked with them are not even described. The very first few lines of the poem set a negative tone they explain that the journey was in the course of the “worst time of the year” and in the “very dead of winter” (two five). This tone is surprising to the reader due to the fact traditionally the sensible men are represented as committed and reverent-hardly the type to complain about how long or cold the journey is. Also, due to the fact the poem is a retelling-apparent simply because of the quotation marks around the very first five lines-a single would expect the magi to have forgotten the unfavorable aspects of the journey in light of their conversion. In comparing the tone of this monologue to the Ulysses’ monologue in Tennyson’s “Ulysses,” we see that Eliot is not concerned with perpetuating a picturesque myth but rather with constructing a realistic-even ordinary-perspective for his characters. This is a main shift for poetry: even though it when focused on conventional photos of beauty like nature, landscapes and singing birds, Eliot extracts beauty out of the mundane.
As the poem continues, the narrator offers photos of the journey, though in no way describing the landscape directly. In a word, the journey is disastrous: their transportation, the camels, are miserable their guides, the camel males, are undependable, and the cities are hostile. The sensible guys “regret” the former instances of “summer palaces on slopes, the terraces, / and the silken girls bringing sherbet” (eight-10). The word “regret” is an exciting selection since there are two relevant meanings: it could mean that the sensible males miss, or lengthy for, the former occasions, or that they really feel repentant more than them. Each interpretations of the word can be supported: because the wise males are leaving on a winter journey, a single would anticipate them to miss home (and summer) also, thinking about their spiritual conversion, one would expect the magi to really feel repentant more than the idleness in which they spent former occasions. The reader’s uncertainty parallels the uncertainty of the magi all through the poem. By the finish of the first stanza, the magi seem to lack a complete understanding of the journey. By the line “that all this was folly” (20), the reader is invited to provide the meaning that the magi have missed.
In the subsequent stanza, the reader is actively engaged in deciphering the which means of the poem. The magi attain a valley that smells of vegetation, and has a operating stream and a water-mill. These are all photos of birth-a direct contrast to the photos of death in the initial stanza. Even though opposites, birth and death are connected by way of the partnership of the snow and the valley-the snow, an image of struggle and death, offers the valley moisture that causes vegetation, a symbol of birth. This relationship between birth and death is revisited later in the poem. The poem continues with a series of pictures that refer to Christianity. The 3 trees directly allude to crucifixion-there have been three crosses at the crucifixion of Christ. The white horse alludes to the white horse of the second coming that is referred to in the New Testament. The pieces of silver refer to the silver pieces for which Judas betrayed Christ. These photos are typical of Eliot in their compressed language and juxtaposition. Collectively, the photos tell the story of Christ’s life, albeit briskly. At the finish of the stanza, the sensible men have located the place of the nativity, and call it “satisfactory” (31). This adjective undoubtedly surprises any Western reader, for whom the nativity is traditionally celebrated as a divine event. That the magi discover the nativity only “satisfactory” suggests that they do not fairly comprehend the gravity of the scene-or that they are not fully converted.
In the last stanza of the poem, the uncertainty of the magi is revealed as the narrator reflects upon the journey. Although he “would do it again” (33), he is nevertheless unsure why they were led all that way: for death, or for birth? He is particular that he has observed a birth-the birth of Christ-but he had also noticed a death-the death of his old life-style. In returning to their kingdoms, they are uncomfortable amongst the Pagans, “alien people clutching their gods” (42). This passage revisits the complicated partnership among birth and death. In Eliot’s time, this passage appears specifically appropriate-significantly of his other writing bargains with the alienation and isolation inspired by the increasingly contemporary globe. The death of an old globe brings about a far more intricate new world, and the magi encounter anxiousness about the adjust. That the magi do not seem to fully comprehend the influence of the birth they have just witnessed shows that even though converted, they are unable to truly advantage from their conversion. They are left awaiting one more death, regretting previous occasions.
Credited as an inventor of contemporary poetry, Eliot reflected the uncertainty and complexities of modern day life in his poems. A lot like the narrator in “The Adore Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” the narrator of “Journey of the Magi” is complicated and alienated. Unsure of their desires, the narrators of both poems are unable to make selections. The doubt and hesitation that the magi feel over the influence of Christ’s birth keep them from benefiting from their newfound faith. The conversion of the magi could parallel Eliot’s conversion to contemporary society: he was a man no longer at ease in the old dispensation of poetry.
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Level: Medical School
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