Nature And Conversion Imagery In T. S. Eliot's "Journey Of The Magi": A Review Of Criticism In Books

879 words - 4 pages

Criticism of T. S. Eliot's "Journey of the Magi" suggests that the images of nature and conversion are representative of the ambiguity of the world. The images of nature are at times beautiful--as in the "fertile valleys" and "running streams"--but are also ominous and dark in other portions of the poem. Images of conversion are also both positive and negative, as they are intended to convey a sense of hope and uncertainty--just as conversion had left an enigmatic feeling in Eliot's own life.
Sean Lucy, in T. S. Eliot and the Idea of Tradition, suggests that "Journey of the Magi" is a poem about the unclear nature of conversion. Reading the poem in the context of other religious poems, Lucy suggests that
"Journey of the Magi," "A Song for Simeon" and "Animula" . . . are all poems of the Christian perspective, they are all poems of acceptance and of resignation to a destiny which is the only possible answer, but which seems to the protagonists, as human beings, almost impossibly hard and painful. They are purgatorial poems. (145)
Here, Lucy uses "acceptance" in the same sentence as "hard," "painful," and "resignation" to demonstrate the grayness of the world. Nothing is black and white; even the glory of the birth of Christ may have negative consequences to some people: "'The Magi' and 'A Song for Simeon' show little of that high joy which the birth of Our Lord can often inspire even in the most austere artists" (148). The Magi don't feel any of that "high joy" because their comfortable place in the world has been changed and they no longer feel at peace.
Leonard Unger discusses "Journey of the Magi" in detail twice in his book T. S. Eliot: Moments and Patterns, both times in reference to the nature and conversion imagery. In the first instance, Unger compares both Eliot's and Conrad's use of the word "regret." Unger feels that their definition of the word is to "miss poignantly" and, in the case of Eliot, this would complement the theory of ambiguity in conversion (147). The Magi miss the "old dispensation" in which they were at ease before the birth of Christ. Unger also points out that "Images of smell in Eliot's later poetry . . . are for the most part references to the smell of growing things and of earth and sea . . . [and are similar to] the 'valley . . . smelling of vegetation' in 'Journey of the Magi"' (l80). He concludes that the smells of nature are important in all of Eliot's work and represent "the deepest and most intense kind of awareness" (181). In "Journey of the Magi" this awareness is of the vague nature of the world and the knowledge that...

Find Another Essay On Nature and Conversion Imagery in T. S. Eliot's "Journey of the Magi": A Review of Criticism in Books

Analysis of T. S. Eliot's East Coker

2698 words - 11 pages .   Eliot, Thomas Stearns. "Tradition and the Individual Talent," from The Sacred Wood: Essays on Poetry and Criticism. London: Meuthen & Co. Ltd., 1920.   The Four Quartets. London: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1943.   Gardner, Helen. The Composition of Four Quartets. London: Faber and Faber, 1978.   Murray, Paul. T. S. Eliot and Mysticism: The Secret History of the Four Quartets. London: Macmillan, 1991.   Reibetanz, Julia Maniates. A Reading of Eliot's Four Quartets. Ann Arbor: UMI Research Press, 1970.

T. S. Eliot's "The Wasteland" Essay

1774 words - 7 pages T. S. Eliot's "The Waste Land" has been named the most important poem ever written. Many have also said that it is the most influential piece of literature ever to come out of the Western Cannon. However, at the same time, there are those that claim that it is simply given too much meaning and yet others to claim that it is simply plagiarism because of the numerous references and allusions. There is one thing that no one can deny though, and

T. S. Eliot's Life and Accomplishments

1455 words - 6 pages was the son of Henry Rare Eliot and was the youngest of seven children. Eliot’s siblings were already half grown when he was born. Eliot was a poet, critic, and editor and was known as Eliot Thomas Stearn. Eliot attended Smith Academy in his hometown St. Louis, until he was sixteen. During Eliot's last year at Smith, he decided to visit the 1904 St. Louis world’s fair, where he wrote short stories about primitive life for the Smith Academy Record

T S Eliot's "Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock"

715 words - 3 pages night towards the end of the poem (symbolism in itself)! Near the beginning, Eliot fills almost every line with the imagery and depth that somehow becomes less prevalent as the poem progresses. The connotation of his chorus "In the room the women come and go, talking of Michaelmalangelo (Homer, 1221) could represent the repetition of the high society's lifestyle of which he is not a member. This is also his lamentable reply. The dry cracker.These elements amalgamate with Eliot's excellent ability to simply explain a complex and underwritten subject.

Journey Of The Magi

1237 words - 5 pages T.S. Eliot’s Journey of the Magi This Christmas poem is about the Epiphany and was created the very year of Eliot’s conversion to Christianity (Fleisner, 66). Therefore the theme of religion is an important one if we are to analyse the poem correctly. In the book of Ephesians in the Bible, Paul describes the rebirth of the world upon Christ’s death, emphasising the Ephesians’ new life (2:4-5). This theme of death and rebirth is present in

TS Eliot Journey Of The Magi Analysis

2192 words - 9 pages T.S. Eliot's poem "Journey of the Magi" interprets the wisemens' trip to go see baby Jesus from a different perspective than most of us are used to hearing. The biblical version that is most popular doesn't seem to mention anything bad or difficult about the journey that they made. The wisemen had a lot going against them to make their traveling terrible. It was in the winter, they rode on smelly camels, and the upset camel men were no comfort

Criticism of Puritan Culture in Hawthorne´s The Scarlett Letter

2610 words - 10 pages can be discovered through many different paths in life. Instead of following a rigid structure of set rules based on a person’s acceptable actions and behavior as seen by society, Hester and her scarlet letter A signify that one’s life is determined by one’s own actions to provide certain purposes rather than by others or society. There are many imagery references to nature within The Scarlett Letter which may reveal Hawthorne’s opinions about

The Nature of Love in "Twelfth Night" - A Review and Summary of Two Critical Essays

1281 words - 5 pages aspects of the feeling. The first concerned itself with the nature of the love shared by the personalities in the play, while the second spoke of the motivation and reasoning behind the love of the characters. The idea that love in the play is not truly love, but desire and lust for power is one of the ideas discussed. The other article discusses the implications of mortality on the motivation of the characters to live life and love. The first

Conformity and Rebellion in Conversion of the Jews

1314 words - 5 pages Conformity and Rebellion in Conversion of the Jews Though it seems like a stereotype, all teenagers, at some point, choose to rebel against authority figures or conform with their friends. Part of growing up means becoming the person God intends you to be and finding out how to survive, or be independent, on your own. Conformity and rebellion, two issues that each human being has experienced, have great effects not only on

Nature and Civilization in Vega´s The Story of Pedro Serrano and Saer´s The Witness

1420 words - 6 pages over Serrano, disrobing him and leaving him almost animal like in the view of civilized men. While this story does not focus too heavily on the journey of Serrano, it does offer an in dept perspective of what is at stake when man is put up against nature. Serrano desperately tries to recreate civilization on the island in an attempt to cling to civilization. After all, it was religion (a manmade institution) that saves him after the first three

Comparing Journey of the Magi by Eliot and Pygmalion by Shaw

1149 words - 5 pages T. S. Eliot’s poem ‘Journey of the Magi’ is rich in content, imagery, symbolism and above all Biblical References. The poem throws some powerful questions to all the readers and seeks answers from them. This poem is very deep and hard to understand at the very first reading. Its charm lies in its complexity and ambiguity. Here the poet talks about journey of three wise men from East and their struggle. Their journey starts at a very tough time

Similar Essays

How Did T. S. Eliot's "The Journey Of The Magi" And "The Love Song Of J. Alfred Prufrock" Reveal Some Of The Major Concerns Of Its Context?

1019 words - 4 pages T. S. Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" and "The Journey of the Magi" reveal some of the major concerns of their early 20th century Modernist context. Through continuous use of imagery, ambiguity, repetition, allusions and purposeful contortion of lines and sentences, Eliot demonstrates the importance of the inner self, innovation, religious questioning, an uninviting and bleak society and a flaunting of conventions, themes commonly

Voice In T.S. Eliot's The Hippopotamus, The Hollow Men, And Journey Of The Magi

1877 words - 8 pages Voice in T.S. Eliot's The Hippopotamus, The Hollow Men, and Journey of the Magi Poetry has meaning. This meaning is usually a message, and a message is projected though a voice. When we read poetry we hear this voice. The voices projected in the T.S. Eliot poems 'The Hippopotamus', 'The Hollow Men' and 'Journey of the Magi' are particularly strong, and the voice carries a lot of meaning to the readers. The voice is three

Renewal In Yeats' Second Coming And Eliot's Journey Of The Magi

2486 words - 10 pages Renewal in Yeats' Second Coming and Eliot's Journey of the Magi         Both William Butler Yeats' "Second Coming" and T.S. Eliot's "Journey of the Magi" present a renewal process, but each one focuses on different goals and subjects; Eliot on a particular person's transformation, whereas Yeats predicts a renovation of the entire world as a result of an escalation of chaos. And while Yeats attempts to present a definite picture of what he

Death Without Rebirth In T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land

562 words - 2 pages Death without Rebirth in T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land is filled with a variety of images and themes. Two outstanding themes are desolation and death without rebirth. Eliot employs many different images related to these two important themes. The most prominent image where desolation is concerned is a wasteland: a barren, rocky landscape lacking any life or water. The absence of water is mentioned over and