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‘Journey of the Magi, The’

a poem by T. S. Eliot, published in 1927 as the eighth of the Ariel poems, a series of illustrated pamphlets issued by Faber and Gwyer (later Faber and Faber). The poem's directness of statement and religious content became central characteristics of his later work. It forms a monologue spoken by one of the Magi, who describes the rigours of the journey to the infant Christ and concludes by reflecting disquietedly on the passing of ‘the old dispensation’. Appearing shortly after Eliot's reception into the Anglican Communion, the poem serves to allegorize an entry into faith that has involved an arduous transition from spiritual death to birth. The inverted commas enclosing the first five lines indicate their direct derivation from a sermon by Lancelot Andrewes (15551626), to whom Eliot dedicated the collection of essays he published in 1928.

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Tama Janowitz Biography to P(atrick) J(oseph Gregory) Kavanagh Biography