Home  »  Volume XVII: American LATER NATIONAL LITERATURE: PART II  »  § 16. Joaquin Miller

The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21). rn VOLUME XVII. Later National Literature, Part II.

XIV. Travellers and Explorers, 1846–1900

§ 16. Joaquin Miller

In the early fifties Joaquin Miller was taken to California overland by his parents, and the impressions he received coloured his entire life. His poem, The Ship in the Desert (1875), is a string of “these scenes and descriptions of a mighty land of mystery, and wild and savage grandeur.”

  • What scenes they passed, what camps at morn,
  • What weary columns kept the road;
  • What herds of troubled cattle low’d,
  • And trumpeted like lifted horn; And everywhere, or road or rest,
  • All things were pointing to the West;
  • A weary, long and lonesome track,
  • And all led on, but one looked back.
  • Joaquin Miller also wrote the prose volume Life Among the Modocs (1874).

    A period was now beginning when the literature of the Far West was not to be confined to the tales of trappers and explorers. About 1860 a young printer obtained employment in the composing-room of The Golden Era in San Francisco, and he was a contributor to that paper as well. He was invited to the home of the Frèmonts (who were then living on their Black Point estate near the Golden Gate) because of the talent, the genius, they discovered in his manuscripts. From that moment the career of Bret Harte flowed on successfully to the end.