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Joaquin Miller to Walt Whitman, 16 April 1876

 loc.03140.001_large.jpg Miller see notes Aug 14 1888 My dear Walt Whitman:

I met a mutual friend last evening who informed me he had just procured your books1 from you by mail. And I directed him, since he had been so fortunate and understood how to do it, to write at once for me and have the books sent to the Windsor Hotel.

 loc_tb.00690.jpg  loc.03140.003_large.jpg

Well I am not living at the Windsor, and in fact have no fixed abode. Besides I want your name written in the books if not asking to​ much for so little. And so on reflection I have decided to write you that when you receive my order through Mr. Johnson,2 you will please write in the books, saying they are from you to me, and then lay them to one side and I will call and get them next month. For when the Centennial3 opens I want to bring you some friends who are so anxious to visit the good and the great gray Poet.

Thine. Joaquin Miller  loc.03140.004_large.jpg

P.S. Of course it is idle for me to congratulate you on your accession to immortality and your well deserved renown. I will only say that my Soul and my sympathy all go out toward you and I often think of you as the one lone tree that tops us all, battered by storm and blown but still holding your plume, serene and satisfied. Hoping to see you early in May goodbye and the gods be with you.


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. During the centennial celebration of the U.S. in 1876, Whitman reissued the fifth edition of Leaves of Grass in the repackaged form of a "Centennial Edition" and "Author's Edition," with most copies personally signed by the poet. Two Rivulets was published as a companion volume to the book. Notable for its experimentations in form, typography, and printing convention, Whitman's two-volume set marks an important departure from previous publications of Leaves of Grass. For more information, see Frances E. Keuling-Stout, " Leaves of Grass, 1876, Author's Edition," "Two Rivulets, Author's Edition [1876]," and "Preface to Two Rivulets [1876]," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]
  • 2. As yet we have no information about this person. [back]
  • 3. In 1876, the National Centennial commemorated the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The Centennial was marked by celebrations across the United States, not the least of which was the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, which ran from May to November 1876 with approximately 10 million visitors in a seven-month period. [back]
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