myth and poetry

Mythopoetry Scholar

Annual Reflections In Depth Perspectives
Mythopoetry Scholar vol.3 2012
Swan Diver
-David O'Rose
 470 BCE
-from The Tomb of The Diver, fresco 470 BCE Poseidonia (Paestrum) The fresco
is painted on the ceiling of the tomb. While death and diving are connected
in the Greek mind, interpretation of this connection varies. 1

There are moments in our lives when all we have worked for falls away suddenly. These are also moments of radical freedom if we know how to meet them. One such man, "The Falling Man", was photographed as he surrendered himself to his destiny after leaping from the burning tower on September 11,2001. This poem is a tribute to this man who has never been identified. He is the unknown soldier of 911.

My life is burning behind me

There is no solid ground on which to stand

Silently I watch my body assume a terminal posture

I am Swan Diver now

I am free

And do not call it suicide

Come with me

Dive into this incredible moment

Beyond life, beyond death



The Fall has been a powerful theme since pre-biblical times. Hesiod in the 8th century before Christ said of ancient man that "as gods they were wont to live, with a life void of care, without labour and trouble; nor was wretched old age at all impending; but ever did they delight themselves out of the reach of all ills, and they died as if overcome by sleep; all blessings were theirs: of its own will the fruitful field would bear them fruit, much and ample, and they gladly used to reap the labours of their hands in quietness along with many good things, being rich in flocks and true to the blessed gods."2

Then along came Pandora.

The fall of the towers and the tragic loss of so many lives in 911 marked the beginning of the end of innocence for not only America but for the larger collective as well. Today as we see the Occupy Wall Street movement gathering momentum it is clear that the wake up call of 911 has not really been heeded enough. Hubris remains the prevailing condition in Wall Street. It seems we are destined for fall after fall until we arrive again at the ground zero of the world soul.

The now 80 year old Jungian analyst Robert Johnson has commented that a fall in a Western person's dream is an event to be trusted and represents a move towards wholeness. The experience of shame and guilt may be seen as achievements as the pursuit of ego driven ideals collapse and conscience matures.


I underwent a profound fall from grace in 1991 when I was deregistered from Psychiatry following a love affair with a client. Pandora's box flew open and chaos reigned in my life and in the lives of my family and friends for some years afterwards. Behind me was an inferno and before me the abyss, yet there was a still small voice telling me to trust this descent. I held my arms outstretched and took the dive into the unknown.

I have fallen on receptive soil. All semblance of my first life of narcissism has disappeared. I have learned to be present to what is emerging in my life and to trust the whispers of change as they occur. I am now in love with the Mystery which forced my hand this way and am completely surrendered to this Source.

The fall was terrifying as it was enlivening and as I look around me I see the look of terrified aliveness in the pinched faces of the financiers, lawyers and doctors who these days consult me to help them navigate their own descents.

I am gentle with them.

David O'Rose


1Cipriani, Marina. The Lucanians in Paestum. Vol. 1. Pæstum, Italy: Fondazione Pæstum, 1996

2Banks, Rev. J.. The Works of Hesiod, Callimachus, and Theogonis. London: Henry G Bohn, 1876. p.80.

image credit

The fresco image is in public domain in the United States. The public domain tag is Template:PD-1996; location of tag.

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David O'Rose

David O'Rose
MB.BS. (Hons.Syd) is a guide for people ready to encounter their own innate wholeness. He has been offering facilitation of psycho-spiritual transformation over the past 16 years in Hong Kong. His academic background is in medicine and psychiatry.

website: Sowelu seminars & counselling
(Sowelu is an anagram containing the words we and soul.)

more about David

For more on The Tomb of the Diver unearthed in 1968 please see Archeologies of the Greek Past forum archive @ Brown EDU..

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