Erica Jong

Erica Jong on: "Diving into the Wreck"

In "Diving into the Wreck," the title poem, it is the androgyne who dives into the wreck to see the damage that was done / and the treasures that prevail. . . .

This stranger-poet-survivor carries "a book of myths" in which her/his "names do not appear." These are the old myths of patriarchy, the myths that split male and female irreconcilably into two warring factions, the myths that perpetuate the battle between the sexes. Implicit in Rich's image of the androgyne is the idea that we must write new myths, create new definitions of humanity which will not glorify this angry chasm but heal it. Rich's visionary androgyne reminds me of Virginia Woolf’s assertion that the great artist must be mentally bisexual. But Rich takes this idea even further: it is not only the artist who must make the emphatic leap beyond gender, but any of us who would try to save the world from destruction.

From Ms. (1973)