Diving into the Wreck
by Adrienne Rich
Diving into the Wreck Theme of Exploration
Exploration is the activity that takes place in this poem. Whatever else the speaker is doing or feeling or saying, she is diving down into the ocean to explore. We are used to this idea of exploring a shipwreck. Whether it's videos of the sunken Titanic or stories about diving for pirate gold, we know about people in wet suits looking at old ships. What this poem suggests, though, is that exploration might not just refer to looking at a ship. There might be other kinds of emotional, internal exploration going on here.
Questions About Exploration
- We've talked about documentary films and Jacques Cousteau. How would this poem be different if you were to make a film about it? What would be added? What would be left out?
- Do you think the speaker of this poem finds what he or she came to find? Was this a successful expedition?
- Does the idea of "the wreck" being a metaphor seem important to you? What else might we be exploring here?
- How about that "book of myths"? It's a sort of mysterious image in this poem. What do you think it might stand for?
Chew on This
This is a poem about "seeing for yourself." The point of most expeditions is to report back, to prove something. Here the speaker is confronting the facts of her own life, and the lessons she learns are completely personal.