Journey of the Magi by T.S Elliot is an outline of contrasted experiences that is based on the native nature of Jesus Christ. The use of monologue in the story describes the true journey of Magi on his way to Bethlehem to search for a spiritual pacification, which has been used by Elliot to give his detailed account of the conversion to Anglican. This therefore makes the journey for Elliot objective as through the monologue he exhibits the themes of hardship and change. Furthermore, the monologue is used to posit the true nature of symbols used to pacify the theme of change.
In the gospel story, the Bible refers to the Magi as the three wise men; Gaspar, who was the king of Ethiopia, Bathazar, who was the king of Chaldea and Melchoir, who was the king of Nubia. Melchoir belonged to the class of priests of magicians and came to Bethlehem to honor the infant Christ. The three wise men presented Jesus with gifts of frankincense, myrrh and gold. Thus, same to the author of the story, they represent human souls who are searching for the spiritual quester. Elliot presents himself as the earthly messiah who is searching for his change of faith to Anglican faith. Thus, the use of the three wise men has helped Elliot explore the theme of change to Anglican faith.
At the beginning of the poem the opening statement centers on the nativity sermon that was initiated by Lancelot Andrews in 1622 (Landau 67). The teachings describe Magi’s hardship in the deep ways, the snow, the sharp weather and the hard conditions that were very difficult to combat: “a cold coming we had of it/ Just the worth time of the year’ in ‘the very dead of winter”. This shows clearly that Magus admitted the presence of the introspection that was promoted as ‘there were times we regretted’. This is because they had given up the materialistic sensualities and pleasures of these summer places at the slopes and the silken girls who brought sherbet. Apart from thinking if it were similar efforts, their main concern was ignored. They were faced with difficulties, which inhibited their efforts: “camelmen cursing and grumbling”, “the night fires going out” and the villages, dirty and charging high prices” (Trexler 89). Later, it is evident that they all admitted, “A hard time we had of it”. This made Magi prefer travelling at night where he faced agonizing moments due to self-doubt. He reiterates that “voices singing in our ears saying that this was all folly” before they came to a temperate valley. Through this monologue, we realize the kind of hardship Magi went through on their way to search the spiritual quest. This brings out the theme of hardship.
In the second part of the poem, Elliot adheres to the use of symbols in the monologue to exhibit the theme of change. The temperate valley in the poem symbolizes change in the lives of Magus during this arduous journey. During their journey, they come across “a running stream,” which depicts the timeliness of this journey (Landau 56). Elliot describes the journey further as a “watermill beating the darkness,” which continues with the image of renewal and extinction. Furthermore, the journey proceeds and it is described as “three trees signifying three crosses at calvary; “an old white horse”, which is a metaphor about the rebirth of Christ who is the Savior and extent at which paganism has been defeated; “vine leaves over the lintel” symbolizes the vine which Jesus changed into his blood (Trexler 102). The monologue in the poem further refers to the Judas betraying Jesus “six hands at an open door dicing for piece pieces of silver”. Elliot also symbolizes the worn out rituals and forms when he asserts that “feet kicking empty vine skins”. Therefore, the whole monologue refers to the theme of change. When Magus arrives at their destination, he describes it as “finding the place, it was (you may say) satisfactory” (Trexler 198). The assertion of such statement reflects clearly the turmoil in the mind of Magi. This is due to the clash with the old dispensation and the new religious beliefs.
In the last twelve lines of the poem, the psychological state change in Magi is explored. The change was caught perplexed and confused, “this birth was hard and bitter agony for us like death”. Thus, the description of this journey marked the end of old dispensation although it did not fully satisfy them in faith as Magus claims, “I should be glad of another death” to bear a new faith (Trexler 301).
The monologue in this poem highlights several themes that Elliot has centered on. In addition, the monologue confirms to us the universal truth: journeys that are graced with divinity are meant for the brave only. More so, the divine journey has numerous temptations and desires that need to overcome. Through the development of the journey, the temptations highlight the theme of hardship while the change from summer places to the temperate brings out the theme of change.