by Carl Sandburg

The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

Summary of Fog

  • Popularity of “Fog”: Composed by a popular American imagist poet, Carl Sandburg, the short poem “Fog” is a beautiful poetic piece of just six verses. The poem first appeared back in 1916. It was first published in his collection, Chicago Poems. Despite not being the representative poem, for there are many other such poems by Carl Sandburg, it has set the stage for more imagist poetry. The beauty and consequential popularity of the poem lie in its precise and crispy quality and usage of an image.
  • “Fog” As a Representative of Indifferent Image: “Fog” opens with a direct statement about fog. The poet states that it comes. It shows the use of a metaphor but the very next verse shows that it comes on the feet of a little cat. This shows the use of the feline metaphor which is unusual for such a seasonal phenomenon. However, as soon as the poet starts the next quatrain type of stanza, he immediately personifies it saying “It sits looking.” The first part presents it as a metaphor and the second as an indifferent onlooker who looks at the harbor and the city on its haunches and then moves on without showing any emotion. This shows a clever use of personification that starts with a metaphor.
  • Major Themes in “Fog”: Indifference, movement of life, and progress are three major thematic strands of this short poem “Fog.” The poet uses the personification of the cat for fog. Cats are often popular for their indifference and snobbish attitude. That is why fog also acts like a cat. This personification moves on with life without showing any emotion to the city and its harbor. Both are markers of evaluating the progress man has made in this century. Fog looks at them both but with an attitude of indifference as if it does not make any difference to him and that it would continue moving with his own life. It has no impact on it.

Analysis of Literary Devices Used in Fog

Carl Sandburg has shown his skill in using various literary devices to enhance the intended impact of his poem. Some of the major literary devices he has used in this poem are as follows.

  1. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line, such as the sound of /i/ in “It sits looking” and the sound of /o/ in “The fog comes.”
  2. Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line, such as the sound of /t in “on little cat feet” and the sound of /s/ in “on silent haunches.”
  3. Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. Carl Sandburg has used imagery in this poem, such as “The fog comes”, “on little cat feet” and “It sits looking.”
  4. Metaphor: It is a figure of speech in which an implied comparison is made between objects that are different in nature. The poet shows using fog as a metaphor for something that comes in the initial verse of the poem. However, later, it becomes a personification.
  5. Personification: It means to attribute human emotions and movements to inanimate objects. The poet has used the personification of a cat to show the movement and attitude of fog.
  6. Symbolism: Symbolism is using symbols to signify ideas and qualities, giving them symbolic meanings that are different from the literal meanings. The poem shows symbols such as fog, feet, harbor, and city to show the link of nature with man and progress.

Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in Fog

Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is an analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.

  1. Diction: It means the type of language. The poem shows pithy and indirect diction, having connotative nature.
  2. Free Verse: It means using verses without rhyme scheme or metrical pattern. This poem shows the use of free verses.
  3. Quatrain: A quatrain is a four-lined stanza borrowed from Persian poetry. Here second stanza is quatrain..
  4. Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. There are two stanzas in this poem with each comprising a different number of verses.
  5. Tone: It means the voice of the text. The poem shows a highly ironic and indifferent tone.

Quotes to be Used

The following lines are useful to quote the indifferent attitude of the people.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.