As I said in another message, I agree that it does not reduce the power of
the image. But I would go further; I do not think Eliot is in fact always
working from a grand symbolic plan. I think he wrote far more than was
once acknowledged what he in fact directly saw and experienced. I think
the direct experience of falling and burning birds in a night sky of horror
and the possibility of total destruction was a powerful as any allusion--
Date sent: Wed, 9 Oct 2002 20:41:45 +0200
Send reply to: "T. S. Eliot Discussion forum." <[log in to unmask]>
From: INGELBIEN RAPHAEL <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: dove descending
To: [log in to unmask]
> Raphael, If that's a possibility, it seems to me it would
> deprive the image of a lot of its power, don't you think?
I don't see why, in so far as the reality was powerful enough in this
case. Also, it only adds to the other meanings, it doesn't supplant them.
The dove also is the Holy Spirit, and in the earlier section where the
dove is mentioned, it clearly is a plane (cf 'the horizon of its homing').
> Also, the is the verb "BREAKS the air". I can see a plane
> doing that, but a bird?
Some technical considerations here:
- As far as I know, German bombers didn't dive, and their speed was
nothing like that of a jet. They generally flew overhead at night, in
relatively close formation, and dropped their bombs from a fairly
respectable height. The bombs themselves did of course 'break the air'.
- a pigeon suddenly catching fire in the night air could be said to break
that air. What do you think?
- if Eliot is referring to some daytime aerial combat, the 'dove
descending breaks the air' makes more sense - the 'flickering flames'
mentioned in the earlier passage refer to guns, not bombs. Only it's not
quite clear whether the plane belongs to the RAF or the Luftwaffe. Maybe
the ambiguity is deliberate.
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