The "wise men," magician kings from the East who brought gifts to the infant Jesus, as described in Matthew 2:1. They are the chorus who speaks in the first two stanzas of the poem. In the last stanza, one of the magus (singular of magi) speaks.
The animals used to transport the magi across the desert in the snow. They have sore feet and are resentful and unmanageable, so add difficulty to the journey.
The silken girls
Servants of the Magi who brought them sherbet in the summertime at their palaces before the journey. They represent the Magi’s formerly lazy, decadent lives.
The camel men
The servants who tend to the camels on the journey. They are unhappy, and either vocalize that or run away. They also represent desire for comfort in the form of liquor and women.
The cities, towns, and villages
These are personified to represent the hostility of the townspeople the Magi meet on their journey.
They sing in the Magi’s ears, saying that their journey is “all folly”; they represent disbelief.
An old white horse
He “gallops away” as the Magi approach Bethlehem. This refers to the white horse in the Bible (Zechariah 6:5), whose announces the coming of Jesus.
Six hands...and feet
Synecdoches for men who are gambling for money while drinking. This is a biblical allusion to the bartering for Christ (Matthew 26:14-16), and the parable of the new wine (Matthew 9:17).
The birth of Jesus is alluded to in the last stanza. Christians believe that he was the incarnation of God the Son and the awaited Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament.
Journey of the Magi Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Journey of the Magi is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
I don't think this was an urban setting. The first two stanzas are written from the perspective of the Magi who endured a difficult journey across the desert to witness the birth of Jesus. The second stanza is dense with biblical allusions. In the...