. Manuscript. Two 7-3/4" x 11-1/2" ruled sheets written on rectos only of an original poem by Miller consisting of 5 nine-line stanzas, completely in Miller's hand and SIGNED by him at the conclusion. First published in the January 1877 issue of THE GALAXY, the poem begins: "O Titan soul, ascend your starry steep/On golden stair to gods and storied men!/Ascend! nor care where thy traducers creep,/For what may well be said of prophets when/A world that's wicked comes to call them good./Ascend and sing! As kings of thought who stood/On stormy heights and held far lights to men,/Stand thou and shout above the tumbled roar/Lest brave ships drive and break against the shore./What though thy sounding song be roughly set?/Parnassus' Self is rough...." One word is added and one entire line is crossed out. This poem was found among the papers of journalist William Conant Church and has an annotation by him on the verso of one page. Church was the publisher of THE GALAXY, and this manuscript is likely the one sent for publication. In an entry in his journal dated 1 August 1871, John Burroughs recorded Whitman's fondness for Miller's poetry (Barrus, Clara: WHITMAN AND BURROUGHS --COMRADES, page 60). Whitman met Miller for the first time in 1872, writing of a visit with Miller in a letter to Charles W. Eldridge. Several small ink stains not affecting the text, a few short tears, the second page split along the fold about halfway. Good. Item #020596
The "Poet of the Sierras," also known as the Buffalo Bill of American literature and sometimes considered to be a Western version of Walt Whitman, Joaquin Miller (the pen name of Cincinnatus Heine Miller) was indeed one of the more colorful authors of the late 19th century, known for fabricating many features of life. While still a boy he headed from Oregon to California during the early gold rush where he worked in a number of mining camps. He survived several battles with Indians as well as several altercations with the law. He earned his keep mostly from mining and the Pony Express before his writing sustained him.