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Journey of the Magi

Journey of the Magi

by T.S. Eliot

Journey of the Magi Questions

Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.

  1. Does the quote from a 17th-century sermon at the beginning change the way you read the poem? How so?
  2. How does Eliot portray the coming of Christianity in this poem? Why do you think he chooses to do so from the point of view of the Magi? What kind of effect does this have on the Christian message of the poem, if there is one?
  3. Since there isn't much detail about the Magi in the Bible, what kind of effect does their doubtful, fearful, miserable characterization here have on the overall message of the poem?
  4. What is all that symbolism doing there in the middle passage? How does the piling on of symbols change the nature of the poem, and, strangely, its speaker? How does the "doubling up" of speakers in this poem—both the Magus and Eliot—affect the story that's being told?
  5. Why do you think this poem is so often read as a conversion narrative? What do you think this poem can tell us, if anything, about how Eliot felt about his own conversion? And about religious conversion generally?

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