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Journey of the Magi

Journey of the Magi

by T.S. Eliot

Tradition and Customs Quotes

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Quote #4

Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death,
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods. (39-42)

In this passage at the end of the poem, the Magis' faith in their customs has been shaken to the point of being dismantled. They arrive back at their palaces, these places in which they were previously safe and secure, and it's as though they no longer recognize anything. They had grown so accustomed to being in power, and to the ways of their people, that a sudden onslaught of change is nearly unfathomable to the Magi. Suddenly their people look "alien," their gods idols to which they cling for a false sense of security. The Magi have fully realized, in other words, the scale of the coming change and their lack of place in it.

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