Diving into the Wreck
by Adrienne Rich
We think our speaker sounds like a scientist, an explorer with a job to do. Check out how she cuts off her lines. Every idea is broken up into short, clipped phrases. It's almost like each thing is being marked off on a list: "There is a ladder." Check. "I go down." Check. "This is the place." Check. Even when the speaker is talking about mysterious or emotional things, the tone is very matter-of-fact. "the thing I came for" Pause. "The wreck and not the story of the wreck." Pause.
Each line is like a phrase in a telegram. It's almost as if these words cost money, and are doled out carefully as a result. We might even be hearing this over a walkie-talkie as we stand on a ship. We just get little bursts from the diver below the water, but no more information than we need.
The speaker may actually be experiencing intense amazing feelings, and we suspect there is a lot going on behind these short phrases. Both he tone and the mission itself, however, are very controlled. She can't let anything get in the way of the mission. The job is to look and to report back, and nothing will make our speaker lose sight of that. Even when the report is about something as important and unfamiliar as "the book of myths," it is treated like a simple fact. This sharp-edged, all business tone makes a really interesting contrast with the beautiful, strange, dream-like world under the water.