CALL it a celestial case of trading up: The prophet Elijah, carried to heaven in a chariot, becomes the angel Sandalphon. Enoch becomes Metatron and St. Francis, gentle lover of animals, is transformed into Rhamiel. "Fallen Angels" (Yale: 72 pp., $16) is literary critic Harold Bloom's meditation on the metaphoric power of angels in Western culture. "[F]or me a fallen angel and a human being are two terms for the same entity or condition," he declares.
Bloom doesn't suggest that there's a winged figure crouched on your shoulder, protecting you from temptation and falling pianos. What he gets at in this brief work is that by treating angels as different from us, we have lessened ourselves: We forget that angels "represent something that was ours and that we have the potential to become again."