Fog Poem Summary by Carl Sandburg


Fog is a 6-line short poem written by American poet, biographer, journalist, and editor Carl Sandburg. According to wikipedia, the poem was written by the poet when he was going to interview a juvenile court judge. On the way, he encountered fog. He had a book of Japanese haiku (poem) with him. He decided to write an English Haiku.

The poem has been divided into two stanzas. The first stanza consists of two lines while the next one consists of four lines. We will discuss the basic summary as well as possible interpretations of the poem.


Stanza 1

The poet says that the fog comes on little cat feet. The very beginning is suggestive and quite deep and profound. The poet brings in fog and personifies it with a cat.

Before diving into the subtext, let us try to understand why poet calls fog a cat. Fog is nothing but a thick, white cloud of water vapours which restricts the visibility.

On the other hand cat is an independent animal which moves silently. It wanders everywhere but silently. One cannot detect movement of a cat. Hence the poet says that the fog has appeared before him like a cat comes on its little feet.

The word little is suggestive and symbolic. Fog is vast in size. However the poet says that it comes on little feet which means that it came quietly and suddenly. So, in the first stanza, the poet describes how fog appeared before him and why its coming is like the cat.

Stanza 2

The fog sits looking over harbour and city on silent haunches. Harbour means port or dock where ships are kept. Haunches means buttocks (the top of a animal’s legs and their bottom).

In the previous stanza, the fog was coming. However it now sitting on buttocks which are silent (it is not running like cat but still). It is looking over the sea ports as well as the city quietly and patiently.

A cat also does the same. It wanders and then stops somewhere quietly and keeps looking here and there. So, the poet is right in comparing fog with cat. As far as mood is concerned, it is mysterious.

After sitting and looking for sometime, the fog then moves on. Again there is a mysterious movement. Nothing happens though it looked like something will surely happens. As the cat goes away quietly, fog also goes away.

Notice the movement of fog – it comes silently, sits silently and finally goes away silently. The poem ends suggesting that nothing lasts forever.

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