For being a modern poet, T. S. Eliotˇ¦s poems are often inspired by both of the religious tradition and Modernism. Using modernism as the element of poetry, T. S. Eliot was interested in experimentation of literature. That is, he tried new forms of poetry and created different universe in literature. In the poem ˇ§Journey of the Magiˇ¨ Eliot used the story of Bible and made different point of view toward the common sense of the story. Eliot used reformed experience of modernism to survey and examine traditional elements.
In the first stanza, the speaker described the trouble times of the journey. In the original story, the three magians crossed desert to search Messiah. Eliot, however, provided a different scene from the story to describe that the magians encountered sharp weather and they had to survive from snow and winter:
A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.ˇ¦
Their camels got hurt and the camel men could not keep their faith any more. They addicted to a silken girl and sherbet with her and gave up the journey. The speaker described the difficult situation in the process of the journey. Again Eliot presented different view from traditional conception. In the last two lines seem to point out that the people who continued the journey complained and came up with the idea, ˇ§the whole journey was all folly.ˇ¨
The journey of search continued in the second stanza. The speaker came down to a temperate valley from the snow line and wished to find out what he searched for. The description of the scene might be a symbol of old institutions. The seventh and eighth lines provided readers a picture of an old tavern. The first part of the second stanza associated with the scene of the valley has a sense of forgotten land. The picture has a rotten hotel and an old horse being forgotten running in away in the meadow. The scene could suggest the old days pass away and tradition no longer be memorized.
In the last part of the second stanza Eliot offered a reformed opinion toward salvation. For the speaker, he finally discovered the goal of the journey. The speaker, however, began to question the conception of being salved. The speaker thought the traditional salvation as the way for birth and then doubted the result of the journey. In the nowadays, those traditional institutions could never return and the tradition is what the speaker searched for. Although he attained his goal, it does mean nothing in the modern times. Today people have different interpretations of faith and they hold different values comparing with those in the past. The speaker doubted the salvation he found and regarded it as death (may mean passing way). Eliot thought that generation has reformed, translated the conceptions toward old tradition and scriptures and revealed the idea in this poem ˇ§Journey of the Magi.ˇ¨