The Planets book














THE PLANETS: A Cosmic Pastoral

Astronomy, fantasy, satire, myth, confession, and bawdiness meet imagination and lyrical sweep to create this enticing collection, the world of The Planets. This unique and wonderful book of poems is also a major work on the solar system - illustrated with drawings and photographs of the galaxy.



"Diane Ackerman has produced a stunning book of poetry in The Planets, the result of a year's immersion in the recent findings in planetary astronomy. The work is scientifically accurate and even a convenient introduction to modern ideas on the planets, but much more important, it is spectacularly good poetry, clear, lyrical and soaring... One of the triumphs of Ackerman's pastoral is the demonstration of how closely compatible planetary exploration and poetry, science and art really are." — Carl Sagan, The New Republic

This — Diane Ackerman's first book of poetry — is composed of twelve sections, each devoted to the choreography of a planet or the conjuration of a celestial event. It's not the allegorical space-landscape or the session in astrological entrail-reading that the title might suggest; Ackerman has an admirable ability to keep the observing eye firmly within the frame of each of these highly-colored poems, and, in fact, half-bent to the ochres and greens of her upper New York State home. In her prologue, she suggests that her intention is to take what science knows about the solar system (and what science has thought it's known in ages past), measure her imagination against the facts, and make all of it her own; to a remarkable degree, she succeeds by referring each abstraction, speculation, bit of planetary data to some dense, sensual, or just plain fundamental experience she has had. That the body of this experience includes a good deal of oceanography and classical mythology — and some mastery of traditional poetic forms — Ackerman demonstrates in the texture and structural variety of these poems. The cumulative effect is that of a small, beautifully arranged museum of solar artifacts, where everything tells and more than a few things instruct and delight. — Kirkus Review


"Our candidate for the year's most impressive debut in poetry between hard covers. She uses the entire solar system for her audition piece." — Knight News Service


"A scintillating cartography of the major planets and asteroids in easily assimilated verse forms that return the poet to earth to delve the awesome magnetism of space... An important work by a new poet..." — The Booklist


"A graceful and important pas de deux. Not since the Eighteenth Century have scientific fact and imaginative fancy been so thoroughly joined in a single set of poems."  — The Hollins Critic


"Our candidate for the year's most impressive debut in poetry." — Dayton Leisure


"A scintillating cartography, an important work."  — ALA Booklist


"There is a youthful exuberance to these poems, a lilting, witty, sensuous, wondrous cosmic meander sung like the pastoral of its title. Nature is her mirror and her measure." — MIT Technology Review


"What is gained from these wonderfully effusive meditations on the firmament? Energy,  certainly, wit and strong feeling.  And who knows but knowledge,  too?" — Epoch