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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
America: Vols. XXV–XXIX. 1876–79.

Western States: San Francisco, Cal.

San Francisco

By Bret Harte (1836–1902)

From the Sea

SERENE, indifferent of Fate,

Thou sittest at the Western Gate;

Upon thy heights so lately won

Still slant the banners of the sun;

Thou seest the white seas strike their tents,

O Warder of two Continents!

And scornful of the peace that flies

Thy angry winds and sullen skies,

Thou drawest all things, small or great,

To thee, beside the Western Gate.


O lion’s whelp! that hidest fast

In jungle growth of spire and mast,

I know thy cunning and thy greed,

Thy hard high lust and wilful deed,

And all thy glory loves to tell

Of specious gifts material.

Drop down, O fleecy Fog! and hide

Her sceptic sneer, and all her pride.

Wrap her, O Fog, in gown and hood

Of her Franciscan Brotherhood.

Hide me her faults, her sin and blame;

With thy gray mantle cloak her shame!

So shall she, cowlèd, sit and pray

Till morning bears her sins away.

Then rise, O fleecy Fog, and raise

The glory of her coming days;

Be as the cloud that flecks the seas

Above her smoky argosies.

When forms familiar shall give place

To stranger speech and newer face;

When all her throes and anxious fears

Lie hushed in the repose of years;

When Art shall raise and Culture lift

The sensual joys and meaner thrift,

And all fulfilled the vision, we

Who watch and wait shall never see,—

Who, in the morning of her race,

Toiled fair or meanly in our place,—

But, yielding to the common lot,

Lie unrecorded and forgot.