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Journey of the Magi

Describe the difference between the two stanzas in the poem.


The two stanzas differ in subject and tone. The first stanza depicts the harsh
journey which the Magi have undertaken. The lines The ways deep and the
weather sharp, The very dead of winter. provides a general idea of the difficulty of
the journey. The first stanza also shows how the Magi were not used to the reality
of the harsh circumstances. In the lines Then the camel men cursing and
grumbling And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters T.S. Eliot uses
negative words such as cursing and grumbling to create a bleak and unpleasant
atmosphere.
However the second stanza has a much different tone. Instead of using negative
words, Eliot uses vocabulary which suggest a new start. The second stanza
employs much more figurative language and conveys its meaning through
symbolism. Eliot alludes to much of the Bible in the second stanza. Instead of
describing a harsh journey as he did in the first stanza, Eliot recounts the Magis
search for a resting place. Eliots second stanza also includes a paradox where Eliot
shows that a birth can be as bitter as a death. Eliot shows that a birth can lead to
the death of many other things and may not be as pleasant as it is often viewed.
What are the central ideas/themes/concerns in the lyric?
The Journey of the Magi explores birth as something new that can also indicate the
death of what has come before. Eliot describes the birth of Christianity as the cause
of the death of other religions. When Eliot mentions that We returned to our
places But no longer at ease here With an alien people clutching their gods he
describes the rise of Christianity as a plague which has taken over the place of other
religions. By doing this Eliot presents birth and death as a complement and that
they will always be related with each other.
Explain the importance of imagery and allusion in T.S. Eliots poem Journey of the
Magi.
Imagery and allusion play key roles in T.S. Eliots poem Journey of the Magi. Eliot
uses imagery to present literal images of the journey undertaken by the Magi. The
images of the Magi having to travel through the harsh winter create a more realistic
atmosphere. These images presented in the direct speech in the lines The ways
deep and the weather sharp, The very dead of winter. make it sound as if it is
actually the Magi who are narrating this story. The images in the first stanza create
a hostile atmosphere which serves to reinforce the negative portrayal of the journey.
However imagery plays a different role in the second stanza. The imagery in the
second stanza creates a very welcoming atmosphere that helps to construct the
idea of a birth.

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