The Hubble Cantos

“O blinding hour, O holy terrible day, When first the shaft into his vision shone of light anatomized!  Euclid alone has looked on beauty bare...”

                    Edna St. Vincent Millay, Sonnet xlv


                                    “But the rest of us need metaphors.”

                                                           Tree Riesener

What are critics saying about Tree Riesener's The Hubble Cantos?

"Tree Riesener’s Hubble Cantos is a sustained meditation on the cosmos revealed to us by modern science—not an enterprise apart from or alien to us, but the latest attempt to unfold our world and situate our humanity—and this work of the poet’s hand is no less critical than that of the astronomer to which it responds.  We humanize the mysteries we touch, but we also respect their distance and difference from us, and in this our true understanding lies.  Riesener’s cycle, with its freshness of language, its surprises of insight, and its fusion of wit and pathos, importantly advances this, our great task and adventure."

—Robert Zaller, author of "Robinson Jeffers and the American Sublime" and "Speaking to Power:  Poems." 


"Lush and playful, Tree Riesener's the hubble cantos presents science as play -- the startling/familiar images present astronomy as sex, gestation, family. The heavens are awesome, but complicated as I'm sure scientists have been telling people for ages. Tree Riesener is able to turn the cosmos into poetry without misleading or misinforming the reader. Quasars and a variety of nebulae are personified. The language here is exciting -- unusual word connections and comparisons lead the reader to unusual and surprising revelations. Stars and cosmos retain the names given to them by the ancients though the original stories and myths matter less and less to the scientists who study them. With this collection, Tree Riesener creates new myths to illustrate the stars."  


—Courtney Bambrick, Poetry Editor of Philadelphia Stories

Poems in The Hubble Cantos: I've attached a link to an image of each of the celestial phenomena (links in public domain). 


Since humans first looked up at the sky, we have used our imaginations to try to explain what we see. One of the most intriguing efforts is The Voynich Manuscript, with its curious pictures and indecipherable text.


      eagle nebula

   barred spiral galaxy nursery

     blinking nebula veil nebula and cygnus



hoag’s object

butterfly and other nebulae

perseid meteor shower

cat’s eye nebula

hurricane jeanne and abell 754

galileo’s saturn

hale-bopp and heaven’s gate

burroughs’ phenomenon


supernova 1986j


red rectangle nebula

helix nebula

interstellar bubble n44f

incarnation galaxy

tone poem rho ophiuchi

picture of the day archives 

twisters in the lagoon nebula

galaxies colliding 

fornax galaxy cluster

eden between the stars

hourglass nebula


stingray nebula

cartwheel galaxy

elegy for a supernova