Diving into the Wreck
by Adrienne Rich
The Book of Myths
We'll start off with a big one here, maybe the most important and the most mysterious symbol in the poem. This book is the first and last image in the poem, which is a good way to know that it really matters to Rich. At the same time, it doesn't quite seem to belong in the same world as the dive down to the wreck. It's hard to imagine that this "book of myths" is just a book with some old myths in it.
- Line 1: This is the first mention of the book of myths. It's the opening image of the poem. The book is listed along with other equipment for diving, so we might feel like it's just a practical object. Maybe the diver learned something about an ancient shipwreck by looking in a book of myths. But what else might that name mean? Myths can be ancient and valuable tales passed down in a culture. They can also just be lies, made up stories, as in: "Oh that's just a myth." At first we don't get many clues about this book. We are left to think about the image as we read the rest of the poem.
- Line 92: Here, at the end off the poem, we come back to the book, almost as if this whole piece existed between its covers. This time, we get a little more information. We are told that in this book, "our names do not appear." It's sort of hard to imagine that this is a good thing. The speaker has spun out a whole story about diving to the wreck, but now that has all been erased or removed from the book. In this light, we might start to think of the book as a symbol of something larger. Maybe it represents the false history that ignores the voices of people like this diver. If the myths do not include our lives, how can they be good and true?