“Poet of the Sierras.”
On the farm of Mr. Monroe LaFuse is the remains of an old house which formerly stood by Silver Creek, marking the birth place of Cincinnatus Hiner Miller, better known as Joaquin or the Poet of the Sierras. His father was a Yankee school-teacher and soon after the birth of his son in 1841, the family moved to Wabash County. Here they joined a company of immigrants to the Oregon territory. It took nine months to make the journey and Mr. Miller pays this remarkable tribute to his father, that he had lived seventy-two years of his life in the wilderness and although attacked by Indians several times, yet near fired nor even laid hands up a gun. At every camping place they left a new grave but all of the Miller family reached Williamette Valley, Oregon, whence they moved to the California mining regions.
In the early fifties Mr. Miller ran away from school in Oregon and with his elder brother went to the gold mines to take a claim. While there he met Mountain Jo who being a graduate from college helped Joaquin with his Land. He worked his way home by performing the duties of cook and servant, and also helping Mountain Jo drive his pack of half tamed horses from California to Oregon.
Mr. Miller taught school in his early life and in 1880 after the study of law, he was admitted to the bar in Oregon and subsequently went to New York. After extensive travel in the various countries of Europe he returned to his native land and settled at Oakland, California, where he now resides and the adornment of his home is in a marked degree the expression of his taste.
In the Indian wars Mr. Miller secured the friendship of General Cook and General
Walker who afterwards became heroes in the Civil War. One of Mr. Millers brothers married the adopted daughter of Marcus P. Whitman, the “savior of Oregon,” to whom Joaquin refers in these lines:
“Here, here beside brave Whitman dust,
Let us be bravely, frankly just.”
Mr. Miller is better known for his poetry, but his prose which was written for magazines and papers, has not received so much attention. He once said, “he had always been writing or trying to write ever since a lad.” The first of his writing that found its way into print was the valedictory class poem, Columbus College, Eugene Oregon, 1859.
The group of poems entitled the “Songs of the Sierras” was written as a result of his observations while on his trips over the mountains. Mr. Miller received the name Joaquin
from a poem of his entitled, “Joaquin Murietta.”
In his advise to the pilgrims of song he says: “be not afraid. Sing from the heart, to the heart. Sing as the birds sing. Let the alleged lion roar. Let the dog bark. These beasts are of the earth. The birds are of the air. The dog must bay at the moon, and the brighter the moon the louder the dog.”
His sympathy for those who fail is found in these lines:
“And great is the man with a sword undrawn,
And good is the man who refrains from wine;
But the man who fails and still fights on,
Lo, he is the twin, born brother of mine.”
His life’s creed ma in his own words be stated thus:
There is nothing in this world that is not beautiful, and there is no man who is not good”. To this he adhered and perhaps the following lines, selected from many, voice the belief as well as any in his works.
“And Oh the beauty I have found!
Such beauty, beauty everywhere;
The beauty creeping on the ground,
The beauty singing in the air”.
The love in all, the good, the worth,
The God in all, or dusk or dawn;
Good will to man and peace on earth;
The morning stars sing on and on”.
For those who lose faith in dark hours a motto may be found in the first lines of his “Columbus”:
“Behind him lay the gray Azores,
Behind him the gates of Hercules;
Before him not the ghost of shores,
Before him only shoreless seas.
The good mate said; “Now must we pray;
For lo! the very stars are gone,
Brave Admi’r’l, speak, what shall I say”:
“Why, say: Sail on! sail on! and on!”
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