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?
(The thinking squirrel in my brain is treading its mill very fast on this

[Peter Montgomery]  -----Original Message-----
From: INGELBIEN RAPHAEL [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Tuesday, October 08, 2002 5:10 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: dove descending

In a recent book (see reference below), a critic suggests that the
much-discussed image of the 'dove descending' in Little Gidding refers to a
phenomenon that Eliot observed as an air-raid warden during the Blitz. When
large fires broke out after a raid, the air above the bombed areas would get
so hot that flying pigeons would catch fire. 

I don't remember reading that Eliot had ever witnessed or heard of the
phenomenon. Even though he may never have mentioned this anywhere, it is of
course still possible that this was behind the 'dove descending'. Does
anyone know of a reference in Eliot's writing or in a biography?

The dove in Little Gidding is usually interpreted as a bold mage fusing
military aircraft and the Holy Spirit, but it may be much more realistic
than is often assumed.


RaphaŽl Ingelbien 

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The Fiction of the 1940s. Stories of Survival. Eds. N.H. Reeve and Rod
Mengham. Palgrave 2001.