Diving Into the Wreck

In Diving into the Wreck, Rich describes destruction as deep-sea wreckage, something that she ambivalently explores. The persona is both curious by the wreck and fears it, feeling that it is her mission to explore it. She writes“ I came to explore the wreck/the words are purposes/the words are maps”, which I understood to mean that with the exploration of the wreck the words as a poet will have new meaning, and she will gain something new from it as a writer.

The wreck also has the duel nature of general wreckage and personal wreckage. The poem starts with the narrator) preparing herself for the wreck, or in the place of destruction, rather she prepares for it, going into the wreck with the proper scuba gear that doubles as battle gear. Rich writes “the body-armor of black rubber/the absurd flippers/the grave and awkward mask”. She uses the imagery of a grave and awkward mask, as a means to explain the wreck. In many ways the wreck is grave, is objectively serious and austere place, as Rich describes it as a place that is “is not the story of the wreck, but the wreck itself/ the thing not the myth”. It is the alternate universe, or world that exists bellow the surface, having nothing to do with Rich herself. Yet it is also awkward, awkward is a personal experience it is not an objective description, it is the way somebody experiences discomfort. It is the personal experience of the wreck. This appears to be a tension until the narrator chooses a side, and focuses primarily on the personal wreck. Rich compares herself to the mermaid and the merman whose “hair streams black” of the wreckage, “I am he, I am she” she breaks the threshold of exploring the wreckage, and becomes it.

However, I am not convinced. I do not see her as the wreck, but more of a tourist or the wreck. I think that her need to proclaim her excavation towards the wreckage, to find the destruction, and then becomes it, is a little fake. Compared to Plath, who seems to really live in despair, Rich’s poem appears to be trying too hard. To me, she is a bit of a poser.

But maybe I am being too harsh.

What do you think?

Do you think that her description of immersing herself in the wreckage is sincere?

Additionally, who do you think the “We” is in “We are, I am, you are”?


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5 Responses to Diving Into the Wreck

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  2. I think that the purpose of laying everything out so neatly was that she wants the readers to understand that she as an author, as a person of the present, is going down to experience firsthand a thing of the past. Yes, in a way it seems like she is trying too hard, but she is also trying to explain the transition from past to present, from merely observing to experiencing.

  3. Rahul Roy says:

    In my opinion, it is not that Rich is not being sincere as much as she is somewhat inconsistent. As I read this, I found myself lost towards the last stanza when the pronouns in its first line, “We are, I am, you are,” were introduced. Not only then, but also the pronouns in the line “I am she: I am he” leave me utterly confused. The reference to the mermaid could be an allusion to the actual wreckage which is an interesting comparison. At first I thought, ships are usually referred to as women, and so that could be the reason, but the his then left me in internal conflict. Anyways, my point was that as Rich progresses deeper into the poem, the actual “Wreck” that the title probably refers to is being described whereas the initial stanzas presented more of that adrenaline rush that Yoni refers to. I have no sure opinion of these random pronouns, but since the Wreck is somewhat rushed, the pronouns could be a short way of putting all the lives maybe lost from that wreckage of maybe some ship into perspective. That, however, is a really far-fetched claim so who knows.

  4. Conor McGuire says:

    i think that the poem is sincere. I don’t think the poem is trying to convey feelings of deep despair. Instead i think the poem touches upon death and what it means to be alive. The “We” she is referring to is the literal “you” and “me” in the sense that you and me are both alive. Prior to this statement she alludes to the idea that this wreckage and everything in it is frozen in time and lives now only in myth. the last three lines “a book of myths/in which/ our names do not appear.” further extends this idea because we are not living in myth we are living. Furthermore, the fact that she uses “back” in “the one who find our way/ back to this scene” struck me. The sentence functions without “back” but she uses it anyway, perhaps alluding to the idea that we have already been there and if we haven’t it is a familiar place; we could be there. Ultimately, however it might not be a wreckage but we will get there, but in the meantime we are living not in books of myth but above water.

  5. Yes! loving the cynicism. The extended metaphor is laid out too neatly. Besides, I’ve been scuba diving. You feel so alive and at one with nature there’s no way during those moments anyone is feeling depressed (but that’s a technicality). Everything in this poem is too easy. Furthermore, on a note of personal taste, I found the beginning of her preparations excruciating, and I felt it anyway did not add to the message she was trying to convey.

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