The Poem Journey of the Magi



The poem “Journey of the Magi” by T.S. Eliot is a mythical tale of the wise magi,
who visited Jesus, and their emotions on and after the voyage. It is a tale of their
conversion to Christianity, and their quest to preserve their faith. It the beginning of the
poem, they are on a voyage to Nazareth, to visit the baby Jesus.

On this journey they suffered, were tempted, and were encouraged to return
home. They persevered, however, and finally crossed the mountain and entered into a
warm valley. These mountains they crossed represented the difficulty in attaining faith,
while the valley represented the pleasure attained once faith has been achieved. The three
trees on the horizon in the valley symbolize the trinity, and they overlook the valley as the
trinity overlooks heaven. In this sense the valley, and faith it’s self, represent the
perfection of Eden, and a complete oneness with god. The old white horse symbolizes
doomsday, and the allusion to the horse galloping away in the meadow is a metaphor
showing the existence of earth as a hell, which all holy creatures will run from. The
allusion to thirty pieces of silver and gambling show the ease in which mankind looses
divine grace and sins. The idea that faith must be experienced, not learned, is shown in
the line “but there was no information, so we continued. The last line of the second
stanza reiterates the theme that faith is a heaven in which few people will go.

The final stanza shows that once faith is achieved, the urge to promulgate that
faith is hindered by the lack of an attentive audience. By the end of the poem, the wise
men see faith as a rebirth, and death as the final test of faith. They see the old pagan
religions as false, and thus see the truth that their faith has revealed to them. They see
death as the rebirth into a new life, and therefore hope for death.