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