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Diving into the Wreck Summary & Analysis
by Adrienne Rich

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"Diving into the Wreck" was written by the American poet Adrienne Rich and first published in a collection of the same name in 1973. The poem opens as the speaker prepares for a deep-sea dive and then follows the speaker's exploration of a shipwreck. Rich was a leading feminist poet, and many critical interpretations view the poem as an extended metaphor relating to the struggle for women's rights and liberation. That said, the poem is rich with symbolism related to a variety of subjects, and its reading doesn't need to be limited by Rich's biography. For example, it can also be taken as a more general exploration of personal identity and people's relationship to the past—both their own, and that of society in general. To that end, before diving the speaker has "read the book of myths"—which perhaps represents the established ideas, norms, and stories about the wreck (and, metaphorically speaking, about the speaker and/or society at large)—and insists on instead gaining direct experience of the wreck by making the dive. The poem thus also becomes a kind of call for venturing into the perilous unknown in order to find the truth.

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