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Diving into the Wreck

Diving into the Wreck


by Adrienne Rich

Stanza X Summary

Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.

Lines 87-94

We are, I am, you are
by cowardice or courage
the one who find our way
back to this scene
carrying a knife, a camera
a book of myths
in which
our names do not appear.

  • Now we pull away from the ship, almost like a camera zooming out at the end of a movie. Suddenly the speaker is not just a merman or a dead woman.
  • The speaker of the poem has become everyone: "We are, I am, you are" (87).
  • We all become wreck divers.
  • We are all "the one who find our way/ back to this scene" (89-90).
  • We all become victims and survivors of disaster, all recovering, searching, and exploring.
  • The poem, in its last lines, circles back to the camera and the knife, closing a loop with the first lines.
  • It ends, though, on the book of myths: "in which/ our names do not appear" (93-94).
  • We have had an intense personal experience. Maybe sad, maybe healing, maybe both.
  • But this experience has not been recorded in the book; it is removed from the myths. Even our existence is invisible, ignored.
  • Here we get just a glimpse of Rich's anger about the silencing of human experience.
  • (On a side biographical note, she was particularly politically aware and active at the time she wrote "Diving into the Wreck.")
  • This last line leaves us to think about the ways that human history has silenced our voices and made our personal disasters seem invisible.
  • At the same time, it offers us the hope that we can change this fact, that we can rescue our stories from the book of myths. Because the act of writing this poem is a way of "diving into the wreck," of confronting and salvaging the disasters in our lives.

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