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Comment 31 of 41, added on September 18th, 2009 at 6:53 AM.
I do not understand MLH's comment at all. Firstly, I do agree with MLH's
basic premise - that a poem can be said to fail, if it does not 'stand
alone'. MLH goes on to argue that critics have identified themes such as
'abuse' and 'patriarchal society' which a reading of the poem alone does
not suggest. However, I think the critics are wrong and so is MLH. I read
the poem and it seems very obviously to be about personal disaster, and
looking into the murky depths of the unconscious to seek the treasure of
knowledge. This inner journey is romantcised by Rich through her
utilisation of the imagery and symbols of 'the quest'. It is a lovely,
evocative poem which conveys so beautifully the sensations of the body and
mind in a meditative/trance state - hence the references to alterations in
breathing etc. "you breathe differently down here"...and to a shift in her
mode of consciousness ..."I am blacking out".
Comment 30 of 41, added on July 12th, 2009 at 3:50 AM.
I have been familiar with this poem, taught this poem, even wrote a poem
that responds to this poem. This poem is a masterpiece, as scholars will
explain, but let me first share my experiences with this poem.
The first time I read the poem, it was part of an assigned reading in
undergraduate studies, and the pure imagistic genius of the poem stirred my
imagination. I knew nothing of this author at the time, about 1978. I
began to re-read the poem, as the best poems will urge, and I understood
only that I was working with a masterpiece.
No, I did not understand it completely, but I understood what the poem said
to me. I understood what the poem did to my afterthoughts, making for me a
needed response after some years of studies and fine tuning of my creative
I never took the poem as a literal snapshot of the author's life, because I
do not think that it was meant to be that. An author and a persona created
for speaking a poem are not duplicate characters. They share much in a
poem, the poet's craft and the persona's pathos, the poet's ethos and the
If a reader wants simple and straightforward reading, the reader should
read prose, but I caution that Flannery O'Connor will challenge a reader's
senses with her fiction. A simple reader should stick to composition and
rhetoric, and stay away from creative writing, unless the reader wants
Art imitates life. Prose talks about things. Know the difference. It is
from Korea, South
Comment 29 of 41, added on March 13th, 2009 at 1:15 AM.
As a collegiate-level English instructor, with an undergraduate and
graduate background in literature and language, I confess that I think this
poem ("Diving into the Wreck")is a colossal failure, and one which I would
utilize in my classes only to demonstrate what makes it such a poorly
written one, in my estimation. If one operates on the general consensus
that the text is a metaphoric one, in order for it to succeed, the metaphor
should be readily recognized; a poem fails if you don't understand the
message it is said to contain without having access to a bunch of
background information. In a nutshell, if the poem cannot "stand alone" to
determine meaning, it hasn't accomplished its communicative goal; you can't
learn from what you don't understand. The conventional, most common
explanation provided by analysts is that the poem pertains to patriarchal
abuse, indifference, and debasement regarding women, in light of the
authoress' lesbian sexuality and feminist activism---but if one had no
prior knowledge of such aspects of her life, would one automatically reach
said conclusion? Methinks not, because if you have to explain your poem,and
such great confusion and/or disagreement exists upon perusal of it, then it
didn't "work" as an activist expression, because it did not clarify enough
for the readers the metaphor intended.
MLH from United States
Comment 28 of 41, added on March 9th, 2009 at 9:29 PM.
I agree with Elizabeth, why does EVERYTHING have to be analyzed? Why must
we assume that every author has a hidden meaning in every piece of work
that they do? I write too, and not every detail I use in my writings have a
significant meaning or a relation to my life or the world around me. I
mean, it is important to get the basis of the poem, but must we pick apart
every single word that the author uses and add a superficial meaning to
When I first read this poem, I took it literally because of the line with
'Cousteau'. I can see where the other ideas are coming from, but who's to
say what Adrienne meant by this poem, as none of us think like her or know
Michelle from United States
Comment 27 of 41, added on December 3rd, 2008 at 9:42 AM.
In order to reach our full humanity we must encompass both masculine and
feminine qualities. In order to discover this we must do it alone.
Comment 26 of 41, added on November 9th, 2008 at 4:39 PM.
The ship clearly represents racism.
Comment 25 of 41, added on May 20th, 2008 at 6:30 PM.
Mike Strazzire - It's awful sad that you are critisizing someone who is
trying to understand a really significant piece of poetry, while being
pretty off base yourself. Considering you're in a literary forum, it seems
as though it would be more beneficial to everyone if you would help foster
a comfortable learning environment for others by not being hostile. My
first read through I took it literally, and after reading it a second time
started to understand that this poem is the account of a females journey
into adulthood, and independence. There is too much to leave all here, but
everytime I read it I come away with something new. My suggestion to people
who are doing a literal reading is to keep reviewing it, and you will see
more to it. Jeremy D, you described pretty much exactly what I came away
with, as well as many of my classmates.
Ashley Page from United States
Comment 24 of 41, added on May 7th, 2008 at 11:59 AM.
the poem is a metaphor for finding the work of women long lost and
forgotten. it is, and never was, about an actual shipwreck. It's called
figurative language...look into it some time before you show how dumb you
really are by opening your mouth.
from United States
Comment 23 of 41, added on May 6th, 2008 at 9:36 PM.
The fact is, this poem evokes far deeper a meaning of personal growth and
understanding than several of you can gather. Not to sound like an arrogant
prick, but if you read this poem and think, for a second, that it is not a
reference to her rebirth of self and furthermore realization that she is,
in fact, capable of doing anything and everything set in front of her
without the help of a "man" or a dictator of some sort, then you are sorely
mistaken. The line: "I am she: I am he" clearly defines the thought that
she, the narrator, has embraced the ability to be self-governing and
dependent upon no one but herself alone.
If you're interested in an interesting parallel look at the notions of
"hembrismo" offered in Gabriel Garcia Marquez's novel: "Chronicle of a
Death Foretold;" in particular, focus on the character Maria Alejandrina
Jeremy D. from United States
Comment 22 of 41, added on April 18th, 2008 at 5:57 PM.
Why can't this just be a poem about a ship wreck? Why do you have to find
some hidden meaning with every poem?
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