Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Joaquin Miller to Walt Whitman, 30 September 1871

Date: September 30, 1871

Whitman Archive ID: loc.01805

Source: The Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. Transcribed from digital images or a microfilm reproduction of the original item. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Editorial notes: The annotation, "Joaquin Miller," is in the hand of Walt Whitman. The annotation, "see notes May 5 1888," is in the hand of Horace Traubel.

Contributors to digital file: Alex Kinnaman, Elizabeth Lorang, Beverley Rilett, Ashley Lawson, Kevin McMullen, John Schwaninger, Marie Ernster, Cristin Noonan, Amanda J. Axley, and Stephanie Blalock

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Easton Pen.
Sept 30. 71.
Walt Whitman
Washington D.C.1

My Dear Mr Whitman:

I have many messages for you from your friends in Europe which I promised and so much desired to deliver face to face; and day after day and week after week I promised myself and hoped to come to you, but now I shall not see you till I return; for I am tired of towns and tomorrow set my face to the West. I am weary and want rest, and I cannot rest in cities. My address for a time will be San Francisco and since I cannot see you I should be proud of a letter from you.

I am tired of books too and take but one with me; one Rossetti2 gave me, a "Walt Whitman"—Grand old man! The grandest, and truest American I know, accept the love of your son.

Joaquin Miller3

San Francisco California

Joaquin Miller was the pen name of Cincinnatus Heine Miller (1837–1913), an American poet nicknamed "Byron of the Rockies" and "Poet of the Sierras." In 1871, the Westminster Review described Miller as "leaving out the coarseness which marked Walt Whitman's poetry" (297). In an entry in his journal dated August 1, 1871, the naturalist John Burroughs recorded Whitman's fondness for Miller's poetry; see Clara Barrus, Whitman and Burroughs—Comrades (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1931), 60. Whitman met Miller for the first time in 1872; he wrote of a visit with Miller in a July 19, 1872, letter to his former publisher and fellow clerk Charles W. Eldridge.


1. This letter is addressed: Walt Whitman | Washington | D.C. It is postmarked: EASTON | OCT | 2 | P A.; CARRIER | OCT | 3 | 8AM. [back]

2. William Michael Rossetti (1829–1915), brother of Dante Gabriel and Christina Rossetti, was an English editor and a champion of Whitman's work. In 1868, Rossetti edited Whitman's Poems, selected from the 1867 Leaves of Grass. Whitman referred to Rossetti's edition as a "horrible dismemberment of my book" in his August 12, 1871, letter to Frederick S. Ellis. Nonetheless, the edition provided a major boost to Whitman's reputation, and Rossetti would remain a staunch supporter for the rest of Whitman's life, drawing in subscribers to the 1876 Leaves of Grass and fundraising for Whitman in England. For more on Whitman's relationship with Rossetti, see Sherwood Smith, "Rossetti, William Michael (1829–1915)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]

3. Joaquin Miller enclosed his calling card in his letter to Whitman. [back]


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