In the poem "Cooks Brook" by Al Pittman, there are words and phrases which suggest how the speaker feels about diving in the pool. No doubt, the speaker feels that some of his peers do not have enough courage to dive in the pool. The speaker stresses that some of his peers had no guts:
not everyone had guts enough
to dive from the top ledge
Truly, the speaker is saying that it takes guts to dive into the pool below which is filled with dangerous rocks. Only a few of the boys with whom he was diving had no fear:
One by one the brave few of us
Would climb the cliff to the ledge
And stand poised
Ready to plunge headfirst
Into the dark water belowg had no fear.
Clearly, some of the speaker's fellow divers were afraid. Fear was a common factor. In fact, even those brave enough to dive had moments of fearful doubts:
And always there was that moment of terror
When you’d doubt that you could
Clear the shelf
Obviously, the pool below was filled with dangerous rocks. It is natural to fear the rocks. However, the speaker is suggesting that it is necessary to dive in order to overcome fears and advance into manhood. The speaker is so serious about overcoming his fear until he states that it would be better to die while diving into the pool filled with a "shelf of rocks" than to not follow through with the dive.
It would be better to die
Skull smashed open in the water
Than it would be to climb
Backwards down to the beach
This is a serious attitude. The speaker suggests that smashing his skull on the rocks is preferable to appearing weak and fearful of the dive.
After the dive, the speaker is amazed or surprised to be alive. He thought he was going to die. Expecting to die yet surviving brings about a feeling of amazement:
And you are surprised always
To find yourself alive
Following the streaks of sunlight
That lead you gasping to the surface
After surviving the dive, the speaker proudly suggests that there was nothing to it:
Where you make your way
Leisurely to shore
As though there had been nothing to it
Ultimately, the speaker has conquered his fear. He has survived the dangerous dive. He is suggesting that this is proof that he has become a man.