Diving Into the Wreck

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“Diving Into The Wreck” by Adrienne Rich

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1 “This is the place.
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And I am here, the mermaid whose dark hair
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streams black, the merman in his armored body.
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We circle silently
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5 about the wreck
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we dive into the hold.
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I am she: I am he
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whose drowned face sleeps with open eyes
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whose breasts still bear the stress
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10 whose silver, copper, vermeil cargo lies
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obscurely inside barrels
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half-wedged and left to rot
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we are the half-destroyed instruments
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that once held to a course
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15 the water-eaten log
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the fouled compass
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We are, I am, you are
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by cowardice or courage
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the one who find our way
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20 back to this scene
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carrying a knife, a camera
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a book of myths
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in which
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our names do not appear.”
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Adrienne Rich, “Diving Into the Wreck” - 1973
Stanzas 8-9-10
In “Diving Into the Wreck”, written in 1973, the poet Adrienne Rich explores metaphorically the darkness of the ocean of her inner-experience of the world through her perceptions, feelings and thoughts, a quest that she believes each person should take in order to find the truth about her/himself, as opposed to just believing what we are told. This metaphor of the ocean is used to symbolize the depth in ourselves, and ends by letting us become witnesses of the speaker’s transformation from a lambda diver to an androgynous sea creature to send a universal message to the world about the terrible events that happen and stay unrecorded. By the utilization of oceanic metaphors, symbols and images of violence, determination, conversion and even transmutation, by the alternation of punctuation and tones, from a slow to a fast tone entangled by alliterations and assonances, and by the choice of words related to the ocean, destruction and chaos, she allows us to deeply understand what she really means by “Diving Into The Wreck”: life is the pursuit of truth as opposed to the indoctrinated minds, ubiquitous in the 20th century, and that all in all conveys to this poem its prophetic dimension.

The author describes the transformation of the speaker to an odd hermaphrodite, androgynous creature in order to symbolize the amalgam of every people, creature, and specie in the world. A unique person who represents the whole universe. Indeed, after crossing the line between the two worlds, Adrienne Rich does not emphasize anymore the description of the world she is entering...
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