Adrienne Rich's Poetry and Prose

Free to Be, You and Me

Adrienne Rich uses free verse to separate herself from the male-dominated literary tradition in her poem "Diving Into the Wreck". Her poem addresses the role of women in past literature while promising hope for the future generations. Rich's reclamation of the literary tradition is achieved through both her context and her choice of form.

The very first lines of the poem establish a challenging tone. She starts, "Having read the book of myths/ and loaded the camera/and checked the edge of the knife-blade". The first image is of a book that she defines as a collection of myths. "Myth", as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary, is "a widespread but untrue or erroneous story or belief; a widely held misconception; a misrepresentation of the truth" (OED, 2003). In addition, this misrepresentation has been printed. It has a literary basis. The use of the word "myth" already raises the attention of the reader to find the misconception. The same effect is heightened by the enjambment used on the line. The line break after "myth" serves to hang the reader's attention on it for a second longer as they scan down to the next line. With the reader searching for the...

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