Perhaps a calming image, until you realize what it is being used to describe. I recall my father’s recounting his childhood memories of phosphorous bombs in wartime Budapest. Saint-Exupery paints similarly searing pictures of flying under fire as a reconnaissance pilot at the start of the war.
Each burst of a machine-gun or rapid-fire cannon shot forth hundreds of these phosphorescent bullets that followed one another like beads of a rosary. A thousand elastic rosaries strung themselves out towards the plane, drew themselves out to the breaking point and burst at our height.
Source: Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Flight to Arras, trans. by Lewis Galantière (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1961), p. 112
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