Fog - Carl Sandburg

Fog - Carl Sandburg

Summary of Fog
Fog Summary is the summary of a poem that reflects Carl Sandburg’s interest in nature. It beautifully captures the moment when the fog comes and moves. He presents a powerful image of life through a metaphorical cat. Its meaning is centred on the fog in the Chicago city. The poet compares the fog with the cat because the cat also comes with soft paws and without giving any sign of its arrival. The same is the case with fog, as it approaches exactly in a similar way.

The poet is saying about the fog which is generally seen during the winter season and it is coming towards the city and the harbour just like a cat. The next poet says that the fog has covered the city and harbour completely and it appears as a cat is sitting by folding its legs and looking around. Poet also described the silent and unpredictable departure of the fog.
Fog Summary in English

Carl Sandburg was a well-known American editor and poet. He has won three Pulitzer Prizes. Most of his poems were about the Chicago city where he lived. Among his many collections of the poem, the “Fog” is the shortest poem. But still, this poem has strong reflections about nature. This poem does have a deeper and strong meaning. The first two lines of the poem are simply describing how fog comes in.

Fogs are visible in cold areas or in mountains or forests. But in this poem, the poet describes fog which is happening in the cities and harbour. He gave a wonderful comparison between the fog and a cat. When a cat comes around us, mostly it is coming so slowly that hardly anyone is getting notice. The same is the case with the fog and its arrival. It just comes in and engulfs the entire place. It stays on for some time, creating trouble for anyone in between it, but still stays as though it is not aware of the happenings around it.

Then the poet says that it just comes, sits at the harbour and looks at the city. It is at the silent haunches and then finally moves on. Here the poet described the happening, once the fog has arrived. Fogs as such do not cause any harm, because it is very silent and the onset it is slow too. But when the fog is around, especially in the city, many accidents may occur due to low visibility. Thus due to fog people cannot see properly anything in-between them while driving on the road. Hence sometimes fog may be very harmful to human life too.

Therefore, a fog comes in similar to a small and silent kitten, and it sits and watches the beauty, while it covers the whole city.

At last, the poet is saying that as a small child gets bored playing the same game, and hence moves on to the next. Similarly, the fog does not stay in one place for a long time. Therefore, after some time the fog also moves on. Fog does not stay longer at any one place.

Conclusion of Fog
This very small poem is describing nature’s act in a beautiful manner.

Detailed Analysis

Lines 1-2
The fog comes
on little cat feet

The poem begins with the narrator stating that the fog arrives on little cat feet. Cats are often associated with lithe, quiet, and graceful movements. By comparing the fog to a cat, the narrator ascribes these characteristics to the fog as well. The narrator specifically states that the fog has “little cat feet”, which evokes the image of the agile way in which cats move.

Lines 3-4
It sits looking

In the next lines, the narrator describes how the fog sits looking over the city. This once again adds characterization to the fog as a living entity. When fog forms over a location, it often lingers over the landscape for a few hours. The narrator is pointing out that this natural phenomenon almost seems deliberate, as though the fog is actually watching over the city that it has settled over.

Lines 5-6
and then moves on

In the last lines of the poem, the author once again characterizes the fog as a living creature. “Haunches” are the back leg area of an animal. Because the narrator had earlier stated that the fog comes in on “little cat feet”, we can infer that the “haunches” here refer specifically to those of a cat. This once again characterizes the fog as a feline-like entity. The word “silent” further emphasizes that it is quiet, lithe, and peaceful.

Just like a passing fog, cats usually pass through a location in a lithe, quiet, and graceful manner. This poem demonstrates that the author pays close attention to the natural world, as he has noticed this similarity. This poem is his attempt to express what he sees, so that the reader may also appreciate the passing fog as well.

This poem is intended to be the author’s expression of his appreciation of nature. Specifically, the small natural events that we often tend to overlook. To anyone else, a passing fog may seem like an ordinary everyday occurrence. However, the author has ascribed significance to this event. In doing so, the author brings attention to the grace of natural phenomena that may otherwise go unnoticed. By comparing the fog to an animal, the narrator makes the fog seem alive in the eyes of the reader. The author uses the words of this poem to express the way the fog makes him feel. The reader then takes in his words and is able to appreciate this natural event in the same way.

Structure and Form
‘Fog’ is just 6 lines long, and is separated into 2 stanzas. The first stanza is 2 lines long, while the second stanza is 4 lines long. ‘Fog’ was inspired by the Japanese haiku style of poetry. Author Carl Sandburg stated that he wrote the poem with the intention of creating an “American haiku”. The poem does not have a set rhyming scheme, making it a free-verse poem. This makes it feel like the poem is the unfiltered thoughts of the narrator. This further emphasizes that these are the sincere feelings of the author.

About Carl Sandburg
Carl Sandburg was an American poet best known for his poetry collection “Chicago Poems” (1916). Some of his other collections include “The People, Yes” (1936), “Good Morning, America” (1928), “Slabs of the Sunburnt West “(1922), and “Smoke and Steel” (1920). Carl Sandburg was known for being well versed in a multitude of different topics, including history. He primarily wrote his poetry in free verse, but was casual and open about using rhyme in his works where he saw fit.

Similar Poetry
If you liked this poem, you may want to check out these similar poems: 

The rest of the poems in Carl Sandburg’s Poetry collection “Chicago Poems”. This is his most well known and beloved book of poetry.

‘I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud‘ by William Woodsworth. This is another poem that expresses the narrator’s appreciation for nature.

‘To Winter‘ by Claude Mckay is a short poem that expresses the author’s love of nature, specifically the cooler winter months.

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