In this kinetic poem, the lines rise before our eyes like bubbles from a diver exploring the depths of a reservoir. The words in each line are formatted using size and position to direct the readers’ attention towards nouns, verbs, and adjectives, while de-emphasizing articles, prepositions, and conjunctions. The arrangement of each poetic or phrasal line into multiple lines clustered and spaced like stanzas makes the commas at the end of each seem vestigial, when the spatial and chronological dimensions create such a paused pace for the poem. There is something eerie about this poem, involving a tall drowned pecan tree, a bass, and man— a fellow diver, perhaps? Dive into this poem a few times and see what literal and symbolic things you discover in its depths.
This poem focuses on one stanza from Swinburne’s poem of the same name to explore its theme in more detail. Upon loading the e-poem, an image of a garden appears with the text of the 11th stanza (out of 12), but the image immediately becomes darker and muted in its colors, perhaps to reinforce the notion of how life fades. Proserpine, famous for being tricked by Hades into being his wife by eating pomegranate seeds, now plants seeds whose fruit brings death to all to consume it. Yet this is not necessarily a bad thing, as this stanza points out, since everything— even endless flowing rivers— needs that final rest. McCabe’s interface is very simple yet manages to direct our attention to each line of the poem by enlarging the lines whenever we place our mouse over them and returning them to their small original size and position when we move the pointer away. I suggest you read this stanza carefully and then go read Swinburne’s complete poem through the lens of paying such close attention to this line in McCabe’s context.