Murn remained mostly unacknowledged by contemporary critics. The doyen of 19th-century Slovene poetry, Anton Aškerc rejected him as a decadent. Even some of his closest colleagues, namely Cankar and Župančič, did not look favorably on his poetic endeavor, regarding it as too symbolist, abstract, "anemic," and "non-lively." He did gain some recognition during his Vienna period, when his poems were published in established literary magazines such as Ljubljanski zvon, but the later developments in his poetry did not receive a positive response by the public.
His fame came soon after his death. The literary critic, Ivan Prijatelj, edited a volume of his collected poems in 1903, jointly with a brilliant essay which gained recognition both to Murn and to Prijatelj himself as a literary critic. Prijatelj's essay also influenced Oton Župančič to change his opinion on Murn's poetry; as an homage to his late friend, Župančič wrote the poem "Manom Josipa Murna Aleksandra" (To the Manes of Josip Murn, a.k.a. Aleksandrov). By the end of the decade, Murn was already firmly established in the Slovene literary canon.
His poetry had a huge influence on successive generations of poets, particularly Alojz Gradnik, Srečko Kosovel, Miran Jarc, France Balantič, Edvard Kocbek, Dane Zajc, Niko Grafenauer, and Jože Snoj. Snoj dedicated extensive studies to Murn's poetry.