“Fog” by Carl Sandburg : Summary and Questions

“Fog” by Carl Sandburg


The fog comes

on little cat feet.

It sits looking

over harbor and city

on silent haunches

and then moves on.

Fog– It is a thick cloud of tiny water droplets present in the atmosphere, especially in winter.

haunches – hips and thighs
Harbourdock, Port

Summary of Fog by Carl Sandburg

That poem is simple but profound. It has metaphors to it. The main subject of the short poem is fog but it is compared to a cat. Yet all of this is metaphorical for things in our own life. The poem describes fog rolling within like the feet of a cat. The fog comes in by surprise, sits quietly there, then moves on to the next harbour. Such are the cats. Cats sneak in unexpectedly, sit quietly there and then move on quietly. He says the fog has covered the entire city and harbour, and it looks like it’s sitting by folding its legs and looking around just the way a cat does when it’s sitting on the haunches and looking around.At the end, he describes the fog’s departure which vanishes very silently and unpredictably, again, similar to the cat’s departure.

This poem can be interpreted countless ways, but to me it mostly represents change. Everything about this poem is changing. The weather changes when the fog rolls unexpectedly. Pretty soon, it changes back to normal as the fog moves onto a different place. We all have little patches of fog in our lives, but we must overcome them and respond to change postiviely and contructively.

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This poem is short and precise, but it comes packed with a punch. It’s simple language attracts people of all ages to read it and try to interpret its meaning. The fog is a symbol for whatever one wants it to be since it can be interpreted so many ways. The fog can represent a dark spot in one’s life, or just a change positive or negative in one’s life.

This poem is fun because it’s short but one will end up pondering it for hours. It’s hard to just read it and be done.

There is so much interpretation to be done on such a short little poem. Change can be either good or bad or have not
effect. It can make one rejoice or be very scared. This is also a part of why the interpretations can differ. Change is definitely poetic when it positively affects someone’s life.

Questions of Fog by Carl Sandburg

1. Is Sandburg’s comparison of the fog to a cat a metaphor or a simile?

Ans. Sandburg’s comparison is a metaphor.

2. Why do you think Sandburg chose to leave white space between the first two lines of the poem and the last four?

Answers may vary. Example: The white space slows the poem down and it mimics the creeping and measured silence of the cat-like fog.

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