Last modified on 17 September 2012, at 10:20

Joaquin Miller

In men whom men condemn as ill
I find so much of goodness still.
In men whom men pronounce divine
I find so much of sin and blot
I do not dare to draw a line
Between the two, where God has not.

Joaquin Miller (September 8, 1837February 17, 1913) was the pen name of the American poet, essayist and fabulist Cincinnatus Heine (or Hiner) Miller.

SourcedEdit

Who now shall accuse and arraign us?
What man shall condemn and disown?
They were born with Time in advance of Time.
The man who fails and yet still fights on,
Lo, he is the twin-born brother of mine.
That man who lives for self alone
Lives for the meanest mortal known.
God pity us all in our pitiful strife.
  • Who now shall accuse and arraign us?
    What man shall condemn and disown?
    Since Christ has said only the stainless
    Shall cast at his fellows a stone.
    • The Danites: and Other Choice Selections from the Writings of Joaquin Miller (1877), p. 52.
  • O woman, born first to believe us;
    Yea, also born first to forget;
    Born first to betray and deceive us,
    Yet first to repent and regret!

    O first then in all that is human,
    Lo! first where the Nazarene trod,
    O woman! O beautiful woman!
    Be then first in the kingdom of God!

    • The Danites: and Other Choice Selections from the Writings of Joaquin Miller (1877), p. 52.
  • "All honor to him who shall win the prize,"
    The world has cried for a thousand years
    ;
    But to him who tries, and who fails and dies,
    I give great honor and glory and tears.

    Give glory and honor and pitiful tears
    To all who fail in their deeds sublime;
    Their ghosts are many in the van of years,
    They were born with Time in advance of Time.

    • "For Those Who Fail" in Memorie and Rime (1884), p. 237.
  • Oh, great is the hero who wins a name,
    But greater many and many a time
    Some pale-faced fellow who dies in shame,
    And lets God finish the thought sublime.

    And great is the man with a sword undrawn,
    And good is the man who refrains from wine;
    But the man who fails and yet still fights on,
    Lo, he is the twin-born brother of mine.

    • "For Those Who Fail" in Memorie and Rime (1884), p. 237.
  • O star-built bridge, broad milky way!
    O star-lit, stately, splendid span!
    If but one star should cease to stay
    And prop its shoulders to God's plan —
    The man who lives for self, I say,
    He lives for neither God nor man.
    • The Building of the City Beautiful (1905), Ch. V : How Beautiful!, p. 48.
  • I count the columned waves at war
    With Titan elements; and they,
    In martial splendor, storm the bar
    And shake the world, these bits of spray.
    • The Building of the City Beautiful (1905), Ch. V : How Beautiful!, p. 48.
  • Each gives to each, and like the star
    Gets back its gift in tenfold pay.

    To get and give and give amain
    The rivers run and oceans roll.
    O generous and high-born rain
    When reigning as a splendid whole!
    That man who lives for self alone
    Lives for the meanest mortal known.

    • The Building of the City Beautiful (1905), Ch. V : How Beautiful!, p. 48.
  • Is it worthwhile that we jostle a brother,
    Bearing his load on the rough road of life?
    Is it worthwhile that we jeer at each other,
    In blackness of heart — that we war to the knife?
    God pity us all in our pitiful strife.
    • As quoted in Oh! Downtrodden (1976) by David Zane

Songs of the Sierras (1871)‎Edit

  • In men whom men condemn as ill
    I find so much of goodness still.
    In men whom men pronounce divine
    I find so much of sin and blot
    I do not dare to draw a line
    Between the two, where God has not.
    • Burns and Byron (also known as In Men Whom Men Condemn), p. 175.

The Ship in the Desert (1875)Edit

I only saw her as she pass'd —
A great, sad beauty, in whose eyes
Lay all the loves of Paradise.


  • He rode as rides the hurricane;
    He seem'd to swallow up the plain
    ;
    He rode as never man did ride,
    He rode, for ghosts rode at his side,
    And on his right a grizzled grim —
    No, no, this tale is not of him.
    • I, p. 15.
  • A grand old Neptune in the prow,
    Gray-hair'd, and white with touch of time,
    Yet strong as in his middle prime;
    A grizzled king, I see him now,
    With beard as blown by wind of seas,
    And wild and white as white sea-storm,
    Stand up, turn suddenly, look back
    Along the low boat's wrinkled track,
    Then fold his mantle round a form
    Broad-built as any Hercules,
    And so sit silently.
    • III, p. 22.
  • Beside
    The grim old sea-king sits his bride,
    A sun-land blossom, rudely torn
    From tropic forests to be worn
    Above as stern a breast as e'er
    Stood king at sea or anywhere.
    • III, p. 22.
  • He seem'd as lithe and free and tall
    And restless as the boughs that stir
    Perpetual topt poplar trees.
    And one, that one, had eyes to teach
    The art of love, and tongue to preach
    Life's hard and sober homilies;
    And yet his eager hands, his speech,
    All spoke the bold adventurer;
    While zoned about the belt of each
    There swung a girt of steel, till all
    Did seem a walking arsenal.
    • III, p. 23.
  • These be but men. We may forget
    The wild sea-king, the tawny brave,
    The frowning wold, the woody shore,
    The tall-built, sunburnt men of Mars. . .

    But what and who was she, the fair?
    The fairest face that ever yet
    Look'd in a wave as in a glass
    ;
    That look'd as look the still, far stars,
    So woman-like, into the wave
    To contemplate their beauty there,
    Yet look as looking anywhere?

    • IV, p. 24.
  • I only saw her as she pass'd —
    A great, sad beauty, in whose eyes
    Lay all the loves of Paradise.
    . . .
    You shall not know her — she who sat
    Unconscious in my heart all time
    I dream'd and wove this wayward rhyme,
    And loved and did not blush thereat.
    • IV, p. 25.
  • The sunlight of a sunlit land,
    A land of fruit, of flowers, and
    A land of love and calm delight;
    A land where night is not like night,
    And noon is but a name for rest,
    And love for love is reckoned best.

    Where conversations of the eyes
    Are all enough; where beauty thrills
    The heart like hues of harvest-home;
    Where rage lies down, where passion dies,
    Where peace hath her abiding place. . . .

    • IV, p. 26.
  • A face that lifted up; sweet face
    That was so like a life begun,
    That rose for me a rising sun
    Above the bended seven hills
    Of dead and risen old new Rome.

    Not that I deem'd she loved me. Nay,
    I dared not even dream of that.
    I only say I knew her; say
    She ever sat before me, sat
    All still and voiceless as love is,
    And ever look'd so fair, divine,
    Her hush'd, vehement soul fill'd mine,
    And overflowed with Runic bliss,
    And made itself a part of this.

    • IV, p. 27.
  • O you had loved her sitting there,
    Half hidden in her loosen'd hair:
    Why, you had loved her for her eyes,
    Their large and melancholy look
    Of tenderness, and well mistook
    Their love for light of Paradise.
    • IV, p. 27.
  • Her mouth
    Was roses gather'd from the south,
    The warm south side of Paradise,
    And breathed upon and handed down,
    By angels on a stair of stars.
    • IV, p. 28.
  • This creature comes from out the dim
    Far centuries, beyond the rim
    Of time's remotest reach or stir.
    • IV, p. 28.
  • I dared not dream she loved me. Nay,
    Her love was proud; and pride is loth
    To look with favor, own it fond
    Of one the world loves not to-day …
    No matter if she loved or no,
    God knows I loved enough for both
    ,
    And knew her as you shall not know
    Till you have known sweet death, and you
    Have cross'd the dark; gone over to
    The great majority beyond.
    • IV, p. 29.
  • Lo! all things moving must go by.
    The sea lies dead. Behold, this land
    Sits desolate in dust beside
    His snow-white, seamless shroud of sand;
    The very clouds have wept and died,
    And only God is in the sky.
    • XXXV

Shadows of Shasta (1881)Edit

I stood where thunderbolts were wont
To smite thy Titan-fashioned front,
And heard dark mountains rock and roll…
I saw the lightning's gleaming rod
Reach forth and write on heaven's scroll
The awful autograph of God!
The mountains from that fearful first
Named day were God's own house.
God can find a soul of beauty
Where it falls, as gems of worth
Are found by miners dark in earth
  • Where storm-born shadows hide and hunt
    I knew thee, in thy glorious youth,
    And loved thy vast face, white as truth
    ;
    I stood where thunderbolts were wont
    To smite thy Titan-fashioned front,
    And heard dark mountains rock and roll;
    I saw the lightning's gleaming rod
    Reach forth and write on heaven's scroll
    The awful autograph of God!
    • Epigraph, Ch. 1 : Mount Shasta; this appears as "To Mount Shasta" in In Classic Shades, and Other Poems (1890), p. 126
    • Variant: I saw the lightning's gleaming rod
      Reach forth and write upon the sky
      The awful autograph of God.
      • This variant was cited as being in The Ship in the Desert in the 10th edition of Familiar Quotations (1919) by John Bartlett, but this appears to be an incorrect citation of a misquotation first found in The Japanese Letters of Lafcadio Hearn (1910), edited by Elizabeth Bislande, p. 161.
  • A thousand miles of mighty wood
    Where thunder-storms stride fire-shod;
    A thousand flowers every rod,
    A stately tree on every rood;
    Ten thousand leaves on every tree,
    And each a miracle to me;
    And yet there be men who question God!
    • Epigraph, Ch. 2 : Twenty Carats Fine
  • The mountains from that fearful first
    Named day were God's own house.
    Behold,
    'Twas here dread Sinai's thunders burst
    And showed His face. 'Twas here of old
    His prophets dwelt. Lo, it was here
    The Christ did come when death drew near.
    • Epigraph, Ch. 3 : Man-Hunters.
  • These stony altars they have hurled
    Oppression back, have kept the boon
    Of liberty. Behold, how free
    The mountains stand, and eternally.
    • Epigraph, Ch. 3 : Man-Hunters.
  • For the Right, through thickest night,
    Till the man-brute Wrong be driven
    From high places; till the Right
    Shall lift like some grand beacon light.

    For the Right! Love, Right and duty;
    Lift the world up, though you fall
    Heaped with dead before the wall;
    God can find a soul of beauty
    Where it falls, as gems of worth
    Are found by miners dark in earth.
    • Epigraph, Ch. 4 : The Old Gold-Hunter

In Classic Shades, and Other Poems (1890)Edit

Come listen, O Love, to the voice of the dove,
Come, hearken and hear him say,
THERE ARE MANY TO-MORROWS, MY LOVE, MY LOVE,—
THERE IS ONLY ONE TO-DAY.


Man's books are but man's alphabet,
Beyond and on his lessons lie…
The soul that feeds on books alone —
I count that soul exceeding small
That lives alone by book and creed,—
A soul that has not learned to read.
  • Come listen, O Love, to the voice of the dove,
    Come, hearken and hear him say,
    THERE ARE MANY TO-MORROWS, MY LOVE, MY LOVE, —
    THERE IS ONLY ONE TO-DAY.
    • Dedication to his daughter Jaunita Miller on her 10th birthday, later published as "The Voice of the Dove".
  • Rugged! Rugged as Parnassus!
    Rude, as all roads I have trod —
    Yet are steeps and stone-strown passes
    Smooth o'er head, and nearest God.

    Here black thunders of my canyon
    Shake its walls in Titan wars!
    Here white sea-born clouds companion
    With such peaks as know the stars!

    • "Juanita".
  • Dear, I took these trackless masses
    Fresh from Him who fashioned them
    ;
    Wrought in rock, and hewed fair passes,
    Flower set, as sets a gem.

    Aye, I built in woe. God willed it;
    Woe that passeth ghosts of guilt.

    Yet I built as His birds builded —
    Builded singing as I built.

    All is finished! Roads of flowers
    Wait your loyal little feet.
    All completed? Nay, the hours
    Till you come are incomplete.

    • "Juanita".
  • O, the sea of lights for streaming
    When the thousand flags are furled—
    When the gleaming bay lies dreaming
    As it duplicates the world!

    You will come my dearest, truest!
    Come my sovereign queen often;
    My blue skies will then be bluest;
    My white rose be whitest then:

    Then the song! Ah, then the sabre
    Flashing up the walls of night!
    Hate of wrong and love of neighbor
    Rhymes of battle for the Right!

    • "Juanita".
  • We plant this stone as some small seed
    Is sown at springtime, warm with earth;
    We sow this seed as some good deed
    Is sown, to grow until its worth
    Shall grow, through rugged steeps of time,
    To touch the God-built stars sublime.
    • "The Larger College".
  • Man's books are but a climbing stair,
    Lain step by step, like stairs of stone;
    The stairway here, the temple there —
    Man's lampad honor, and his trust,
    The God who called him from the dust.
    • "The Larger College".
  • Man's books are but man's alphabet,
    Beyond and on his lessons lie — The lessons of the violet,
    The large gold letters of the sky
    ; The love of beauty, blossomed soil, The large content, the tranquil toil:

    The toil that nature ever taught,
    The patient toil, the constant stir,
    The toil of seas where shores are wrought,
    The toil of Christ, the carpenter;
    The toil of God incessantly
    By palm-set land or frozen sea.

    • "The Larger College".
  • Behold this sea, that sapphire sky!
    Where nature does so much for man,
    Shall man not set his standard high,
    And hold some higher, holier plan?
    Some loftier plan than ever planned
    By outworn book of outworn land?

    Where God has done so much for man,
    Shall man for God do aught at all?
    The soul that feeds on books alone —
    I count that soul exceeding small
    That lives alone by book and creed,—
    A soul that has not learned to read.

    • "The Larger College".

Quotes about MillerEdit

  • Almost his first words were, "Well, let us go and talk with the poets!"
    In vain I assured this untamed poet that the "Bards of San Francisco Bay," whom he had so naively saluted, had taken the vows of neither brotherhood nor sisterhood; that they feasted at no common board; flocked not; discoursed with no beaded rills; neither did their skilled hands sweep any strings whatever, and he must, therefore, listen in vain for the seraphic song.
    • Charles Warren Stoddard, on Miller's arrival in San Francisco, in The Poet Of The Sierras, in Overland Monthly Vol. 27 (1896), p. 667.

External linksEdit

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