A SUMMER DAY
IN SAN FRANCISCO
To my dear father on his visit
to his descendents in the United States
I arrived in San Francisco at noon
a day dark similar to nightfall.
The slopes hazed far above with fog;
crowded like in a festive mall.
distant sea surface was dim;
petrels inclined their wings still;
sails glided past one after another;
breeze brought a breath of chill.
this side of the straits,
looked at the other along each span
felt as if the suspended bridge
retained the spirit of a gone man.
Strauss*, the old engineer!
heart and mind being so sublime
marvelous lines in your design
and will still live through time.
got to San Francisco on the winding
sloping streets with pleasure;
the transversely crawling crabs,
line of vehicles rounded at leasure.
downwards then back upwards
in four and each way trend,
horizontal and vertical roads
up and down as if waves bend.
rows of houses one upon another
up round the mountain side:
hands were so skillful to create?
masterpiece did nature to us confide?
entered San Francisco City
tears in my eyes suddenly start;
gazed far over the Pacific Ocean
and suffered pain in my deep heart...
Vietnamese poem by SONG NHỊ
*Joseph B. Strauss, the engineer who designed and built