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5 Must-Read Poems about San Francisco
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5 Must-Read Poems about San Francisco

Picture of Kyla Giffin
Updated: 11 October 2016
San Francisco is a city of beauty, of light, of mystery, of adventure… Thankfully, some writers have thought it worthwhile to write about all of those things. Here are their words:

‘The City by the Sea—San Francisco’ by George Sterling

This poem brings to light a part of San Francisco that is often taken for granted: the beautiful, majestic ocean. ‘The City by the Sea‘ by American poet George Sterling tells how lovely mornings and evenings are in San Francisco against the sparkling sea. Because most visit in the late morning or in the afternoon, not enough people get to see this view. How many are awake to witness the city as it comes alive and goes to sleep? To see the ocean sparkle in the golden sun, the hills turn purple, and the fog roll through the sky is an unbeatable spectacle.

Ina Coolbrith portrait with signature | © Wikimedia Commons
Ina Coolbrith portrait with signature | © Wikimedia Commons

‘To San Francisco’ by Ina Donna Coolbrith

The shortest poem of these five, ‘To San Francisco’ by Ina Donna Coolbrith, is brimming with immense hope and brightness.The last line of this poem calls San Francisco a “City of mists and of dreams!” – and how true is that? This poem is all about a young adult experiencing the glory of San Francisco for the first time, and it so clearly displays those unexplainable feelings when you first see the city. Doesn’t it just make you want to head to San Francisco right now?

Robert Penn Warren Birthplace Museum | © Randy Pritchett/Wikimedia Commons
Robert Penn Warren Birthplace Museum | © Randy Pritchett/Wikimedia Commons

‘San Francisco Night Windows’ by Robert Penn Warren

San Francisco Night Windows,‘ written by Robert Penn Warren, has a uses words that are mostly simple and understandable. However, it is understood that, to the author, San Francisco is a place they almost don’t dare to go because it is so distant and mysterious, like a dream hidden behind fog. That’s the amazing thing about San Francisco: inside the city, there doesn’t seem to be anything mysterious about it; it’s clear as day. But when you step back and look at San Francisco from the outside, from almost a bird’s eye view, it always possesses something that you have never noticed before.

Nicholas Vachel Lindsay | © Mu/Wikipedia
Nicholas Vachel Lindsay | © Mu/Wikipedia

‘The City that will not Repent’ by Nicholas Vachel Lindsay

This poem is exactly how it sounds: it describes San Francisco as a city that will never back down. Nicholas Vachel Lindsay’s’The City that Will Not Repent‘ embraces San Francisco’s side often unseen by visitors, tourists, outsiders… its tough side. It paints a city that stands up tall through earthquakes, and through everything. San Francisco is one strong city. In this poem, Lindsay calls San Francisco a ‘burning city’ and a ‘rebel city.’ Is that true? Well, that’s for you to decide.

Golden Gate Bridge at sunset | © Eric Kilby/Flickr
Golden Gate Bridge at sunset | © Eric Kilby/Flickr

‘At the Golden Gate’ by Henry Morford

Perhaps Henry Morford’s greatest poem, ‘At the Golden Gate‘ describes what is seen by a newcomer, an immigrant, a tourist, or a child. Either way, you can read this poem and feel the narrator’s sense of excitement, disbelief and admiration for the great city. In it, he describes ‘The Sunset Sea,’ the cliffs, the mountains…and, of course, ‘The Golden Gate, indeed!’ San Francisco, or the Golden Gate, is a symbol of endless possibilities and hope. And why wouldn’t it be?