C Carl Sandburg

Fog by Carl Sandburg

‘Fog’ by Carl Sandburg is a poem that expresses the author’s appreciation for the little events that occur in nature. The poem characterizes the fog as a graceful cat, which endears it in the eye of the reader.

Fog by Carl Sandburg Visual Representation

Carl Sandburg’s ‘Fog‘ is a short and sweet “American Haiku” poem that demonstrates the author’s appreciation for nature. In the poem, the narrator describes the fog that hangs over the city as though it is a cat-like creature passing through. This adds character to an otherwise mundane natural event. This also makes the fog feel more endearing to the reader, which helps them relate to the feelings that the narrator feels towards the natural world. The intention of the poem is to highlight the beauty of nature in a clever and amusing way. 

Fog by Carl Sandburg


Summary

Fog‘ is a poem that ascribes significance to small events in nature. The narrator uses this poem to highlight the beauty of the natural world.

The poem begins with the narrator announcing the arrival of the fog. He states that the fog “comes in on little cat feet”, which immediately characterizes it in an endearing way. The narrator then states that the fog sits over the city, watching silently. Then, just as suddenly, the fog moves on.

You can read the full poem here.

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.

Themes

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.

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Fog by Carl Sandburg Visual Representation
About
Christina studied a degree in English Literature with a Minor in Professional Writing at Concordia in Canada. She is deeply passionate about the world of literature, with a particular affinity for poetry.
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