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Analysis


Symbols, Imagery, Wordplay

Form and Meter

This, ladies and gentlemen, is free verse. Eliot, after Walt Whitman and along with poets Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams, was one of the pioneers of the kind of freewheeling lines that we a...

Speaker

On one level, the speaker here is mega-obvious. The "I" in the poem is very clearly set up as a Magus, one of the three kings making the long trek to Bethlehem to offer gifts to the baby Jesus. We...

Setting

Let's get real. The Magi are moving, approximately, from the area just north of present-day Saudi Arabia—so, nearish to the Persian Gulf—towards the Mediterranean and present-day Israel. Since...

Sound Check

Eliot was writing around the time when folks were all about making poetry sound real. People wanted poetry of the people, by the people, and for the people, so that poetry had to sound like everyda...

What's Up With the Title?

The title, mercifully, is pretty self-explanatory. "The Journey of the Magi" is a story about… the journey… of the Magi. Great. But of course, there's more to it than meets the eye. There alway...

Calling Card

Once again, the late, great T.S. Eliot has created a persona through which to tell his tales. And while the Magus in "Journey" might not have been created from the ground up (like, say, a certain M...

Tough-o-Meter

While the general plot of this poem, more or less, is super-famous and not at all difficult to understand, the sheer depth of the symbolism makes it much trickier than you might think. In order to...

Trivia

T.S. Eliot's cousin, Charles Eliot, was the president of the Unitarian Church while Eliot was in college (at Harvard, no less). So we're betting ol' T.S.'s conversion had some awkward family conseq...

Steaminess Rating

Nothing to see here, folks. Move right along. This is a poem about a baby born from a virgin, and we think that says it all.

Allusions

William Shakespeare, Othello (33-35)Various Gospels (throughout). Check out the "Symbolic Life of Christ" section of "Symbols, Imagery, Wordplay" for the scoop on all the Biblical references.L...
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