Carl August Sandburg (1878-1967) was an American poet, writer and editor. He won three Pulitzer Prizes- two for his poetry and one for his biography of Abraham Lincoln. He wrote poems like grass, analysis, Chicago, etc. We have explained below one of his poem Fog.

Carl August Sandburg

He won three Pulitzer Prizes: two for his poetry and one for his biography of Abraham Lincoln. Sandburg was widely regarded as “a major figure in contemporary literature”, especially for volumes of his collected verse. Some of them are Chicago Poems (1916), Cornhuskers (1918), and Smoke and Steel (1920).

Carl August Sandburg

Summary of Fog

It is a very small poem. He has described the process of arrival of the fog into a city and the harbour. He has very beautifully compared it to a cat. Sandburg has described the genesis of the poem. At a time when he was carrying a book of Japanese Haiku, he went to interview a juvenile court judge, and he had cut through Grant Park and saw the fog over Chicago harbor. He had certainly seen many fogs before, but this time he had to wait forty minutes for the judge, and he only had a piece of newsprint handy, so he decided to create an “American Haiku”.

Fog is probably Carl Sandburg’s best-known poem and has been a popular choice for study since it publication in Chicago Poems in 1916.

Sandburg was inspired to write it one day out walking near Chicago’s Grant Park. He had a book of Japanese haiku, the short 17-syllable poem that captures the essence of the natural world.

He was on his way to meet someone and had some spare time, so he wrote “Fog” and developed what is essentially a haiku into something more.

Fog
Fog
Fog 2
NCERT Poems

The fog comes
on little cat feet.
It sits looking
over harbour and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

Summary Continue

The poet says that the fog which is generally seen during the winter season is coming towards the city. This means that it is approaching the city in a very silent manner. He has compared its arrival to that of a cat because a cat always enters a place silently. Next he says that the fog has covered the whole of the city and harbour and it appears as if it is sitting by folding its legs and looking around just the way a cat does when it sits on the haunches and looks around. At the end, he describes the departure of the fog which very silently and unpredictably, again. It is similar to the departure of the cat, vanishes.

Carl Sandburg wrote a great deal of poetry throughout his busy life and was also well-known as a collector of American folk songs. He wrote a biography of Abraham Lincoln that is still a popular read today.

Fog is a poem that reflects Sandburg’s interest in the natural world. It beautifully captures a moment or two when the fog came moving in over the harbor waters, a powerful image given life through a metaphorical cat.

NCERT Poems

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