“The Journey of the Magi” commentary
“The Journey of the Magi” was written by T.S. Eliot in 1927 after he converted to Christianity. The speaker of Eliot’s poem tells about the long hard journey the three wise men took to see the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. The speaker of the poem is one of the three wise men who is looking back on what they had gone through, how hard the journey was and the significance of it. Eliot uses this metaphorical journey to Bethlehem as a symbol for how experiences that might not be the easiest will change your life and might cause new things in life that may make you feel uncomfortable at times.
The first stanza discusses the hardships that the Magi faced on their metaphorical journey to Bethlehem. The journey was “such a long journey” (3) that was taken during the “very dead of winter.” (5) The rough winter conditions that the Magi were traveling through made it difficult for them to have an enjoyable trip. The speaker, being one of the Magi, wishes they were still in the “summer palaces” (9) where “silken girls [were] bringing sherbet” (10) to them. Despite all of the things they were going through on the beginning of their trip they knew that when they arrived to Bethlehem they would be rewarded with the birth of Jesus. The Magi had to work long and hard to make it to where they were going.
Eliot uses the second stanza as an image for the Magi arriving to Bethlehem. They had traveled through the night arriving the next evening, “not a moment too soon” (30). The speaker observes “Six hands at an open door../ kicking the empty wine skins” (7-28). Eliot uses these wine skins as a symbol for keeping any new born ideas away from those that are already set on their own ways of thinking. Wine skins were used to hold wine, but as time passed they would expand. If they were to expand any more they would break. This is the same for a person that is already set on their own ways. If you try to keep feeding them new ideas they will...