The poems of "Earth and Paradise" are by the Victorians Christina Rossetti and Anne Bronte, as well as the Romantics Thomas Beddoes and Thomas Hood. These are texts which transcend the often-criticized sentimentality of the time and evoke a strong emotion. Rossetti, famous for her elegiac poetry, nevertheless was capable of the innocent exuberance of "A Birthday." And Anne Bronte, the least known of the Bronte's literary talents, demonstates in "My Soul is Awakened" a directness and power of expression never surpassed by her more famous sisters. The entire cycle forms a changing picture of earthly joys, sorrow and death balanced on the one side by the first five depictions of "Earth" - romantic love and loss, nature in both joyous and pastoral images, and death; and on the other side by Rossetti's mysterious and ecstatic dream-vision in the long last song, "Paradise."
"Prospice" is based upon the poem by Robert Browning, and shows the powerful, heroic side of the great poet in the face of the death of his wife, Elizabeth Barrett. The composition of the song took several years due to Browning's characteristic combination of strong emotional expression with complexity of meter.
"With Earth and Paradise, a song cycle inspired by poetry of the Victorian era, William Kersten's music, always interesting and provocative, has become a rarity; it has shed any hints of being derivative, and has stepped, by virtue of its originality and freshness, across an important threshold into the realm of elegantly crafted, inspired art..."
- from the Nevada State Journal review of the Reno Chamber Orchestra premiere, 1992