Dove Symbolism

Symbolism of Dove in Literature

Dove, as symbolism in literature, is a universal symbol of peace, hope, and harmony. Doves are found in all continents except Antarctica. Hence, major religions such as Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism, as well as ancient religions, consider the dove as a messenger of peace. Doves, along with pigeons, were also used as messengers for centuries.  Unlike owls and hawks, a dove is gentle among the birds and known for its docile nature. As a symbol of love, in the Philippines, a newly wedded couple releases doves after the ceremony. Doves are also released at funerals to symbolize peace and letting go in Christianity as well as non-religious traditions. The word ‘dove’ is from Middle English word derived from Old Norse and Old English word ‘dúfa’ or dūfe.


Dove is a symbol of love based on numerology. In Chinese culture, the dove symbolizes enduring love and faithfulness. Doves are associated with Aphrodite and Venus, goddesses of love in ancient Greece and Rome, explains Augusta. According to Augusta, the gray dove is a symbol of love. The white dove represents love and peace. In Ancient Mesopotamia, doves are goddesses of love Inanna-Ishtar. In Greek mythology, turtles and white doves represent the goddess of love and beauty. As per  Aztec mythology, the dove symbolizes Xochiquetzal, the goddess of love for the humanity of the mother. In Hindu mythology, the god of love-Kamadeva rides a dove, so doves are symbols of love. In Christianity, the Bible represents the dove as a symbol of peace and love.


Dove is seen in Christian art with Mary as a symbol of purity, care, devotion, and peace. Chinese considered the dove is a symbol of peace and as well as love. Native Americans believe the dove is a symbol of gentleness and peace. Also, Native Americans used doves and pigeons as messengers of peace and their food source. In Christianity, as per Noah’s story, the white dove symbolizes hope and peace as it returns with an olive branch after the floods to show a sign of life. In Japanese culture, the dove symbolizes peace and the end of the war.


In Christianity, doves are a symbol of the Holy Spirit and are often connected to the major events in the Bible, such as the baptism of Jesus in the New Testament and the end of the flood in the Old Testament, also known as the Noachian flood or the great flood of Noah narrated in Genesis chapter 6 – 9. As the dove returns to Noah’s ark with an olive branch sign of life, here it symbolizes new life and hope.


In Judeo-Christian culture, the dove also symbolizes gentleness. Native American tribes view the dove as the symbol of peace and gentleness.  In Christianity, writers of the Old Testament also utilized the dove poetically as a symbol of purity, gentleness, and grace.


In pop culture, the white dove represents an angel of hope as well as protection. In Christianity, the dove represents hope, as narrated in Noah’s story. Hence many artists use doves in their artwork to symbolize hope. In African culture, the dove symbolizes help, hope, and good fortune. In Assyrian culture, Ishtar is a symbol of hope and salvation.

Pop culture

In pop culture, the white dove symbolizes the new beginning of life, and a white dove is released after the wedding ceremony, representing the newlywed’s lifetime of happiness together.


A dead white dove in a dream is a warning of death. Dreaming of a blue dove symbolizes communication and creativity—in the dream, the black dove symbol sadness and warning about danger. The white dove in a dream represents loyalty, friendship, and freedom. According to Christianity, dreaming of a dove symbolizes blessings and strength from God. Grey dove in dreams is a symbol of good luck to the future and career. Dreaming of multi-colored doves symbolizes extraordinary favor. In Ancient Roman Culture, dreaming of a dove meant a visit from Venus, the goddess of Love.

Turtle Dove

In the poem, the phoenix and the turtle, written by William Shakespeare, turtledoves represent love and devotion. In Greek mythology white dove and turtle dove symbolize the goddess of love and beauty. In pop culture, turtle doves are symbols of friendship, as is shown in the movie Home Alone 2:when Kevin gives one turtle dove to the Pigeon Lady and remember her as a true friend. In the United States, as per the Talmudic tradition, a turtle dove is a symbol of love and purity. According to  Roman mythology, the turtle dove is a symbol of Fides, the goddess of trust and faith.

Examples of Dove as Symbolism in Literature

Example #1

Doves By Kenneth Slade Alling

The doves get up;
The field flings them:
Out of the flock I am parcelled three to watch,
Each making of the horizontal air
His cliff to pitch from;
But if the air was palpable,
It would splinter with the force of their going;
As Rock would splinter,
Intercepting the velocity of these hollow bones.

In this poem, the doves symbolize power and tenacity.

Example #2

What the Dove Sings By Carol Frost

The mourning dove
wearing noon’s aureole
coos from the rhododendron,
oo-waoh, shadow o-
ver what to do. Oh.
And the sad rhetoric spreads
through suburb and wood.
Those who hear
dove moan love, no
querulous warbling more—
the going hence
about which is there no-
the thing to do?

In this poem, the poet describes the mourning dove known for their woody camouflage color. The mourning dove is a symbol of loss and sadness.

Example #3

Tattoo for Gina By David Shapiro

Some see a dove
And think Pigeon
Others see pigeons
And think Dove

Some know that all pigeons are doves
Some angry as if pigeons were not doves

But the city lover knows
And I try to reconstruct
The tattoo on one of your many branches

The more arms the more power
I think of you, O pale tattoo
All pigeons, all doves
You friendly cliff-dwellers

In this light-hearted poem, the doves are confused with pigeons but living together. Here the birds signify friendship and peace.

Example #4

Saint’s Day Triolet: Saint Valentine By Deborah Paredez

You’re flush with hearts and I’m forced to fold
this hand and swear off another luckless match.
How we’ve found ways to love each other, cajoled
our cindered hearts, flushed and forced to fold
upon themselves like Saint Valentine ensouled
with seizure, skin a whirring bee swarm, a hatched
flush of doves. My heart, how I’m forced to fold
my hands in prayer for another struck match.

The poem uses doves along with bees to describe two people falling in love with each other on a Valentine’s Day. Here the doves symbolize purity and love.

Example #5

Rise Up and Salute the Sun: The Writings of Suzy Kassem by Suzy Kassem

Killing in the name of religion defines someone who is ignorant and actually void of religion. God does not condone terror. To kill innocent people to make a political statement is like shooting a dove to say hunting is wrong.

In this powerful example, the doves are symbol of peace as the author indicates shooting a dove means inciting violence and ending reconciliation.

Example #6

Black Book 2 By Carl Gustav Jung

Only in the first hour of the night can I become human, while the male dove is busy with the twelve dead.

In this example, the doves symbolize morning and death.

Example #7

Quote By Nanette L. Avery

We are single doves
Wingless messengers of peace
Sent without a script

Here the doves are symbol of hope, peace and resilience.

Example #8

Genesis 8:8-11, The Bible

He reached out his hand and took the dove and brought it back to himself in the ark. He waited seven more days and again sent out the dove from the ark. When the dove returned to him in the evening, there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf!

In this example, the dove is a symbol of a new beginning and life.