Detractors Recognize Joaquin Miller’s Literary Contribution
Many critics of the flamboyant Western dress and extravagant poetry of Joaquin Miller have also recognized his enthusiasm and contribution to Western literature.
A contemporary detractor, author Ambrose Bierce, called Miller “the greatest liar this country ever produced. He cannot, or will not, tell the truth." He added, “… but he never tells a malicious or thrifty falsehood.” Miller responded, “I always wondered why God made Bierce.”
In the 1880’s, Miller mingled with other authors in San Francisco, among them Mark Twain, Bierce, Brett Harte, Robert Louis Stevenson, Walt Whitman and Jack London.
The noted anthologist Louis Untermeyer said Miller “shouted platitudes at the top of his voice. His lines boomed with the pomposity of a brass band; floods, fires, hurricanes, extravagantly blazing sunsets, the thunder of a herd of buffaloes----all were unmercifully piled up. And yet, even in its most blatant fortissimos, Miller's poetry occasionally captured the grandeur of his surroundings, the spread of the Sierras, the lavish energy of the Western World."
Miller himself said, “My poems are literally my autobiography. If you care to read further of my life, making allowance for poetic allowance, you will find these (poems) literally true.”
Sources: Jones, Carolyn. "Joaquin Miller’s Abbey to be Restored." SFGate. 21 Oct. 2019. Web. 19 Aug. 2015. http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Joaquin-Miller-s-Abbey-to-be-restored-3213401.php#photo-2355997; Fisher, Jim. "Joaquin Miller - Historical Essay." FoundSF.org. Web. 19 Aug. 2015. http://www.foundsf.org/index.php?title=JOAQUIN_MILLER];