Friday, April 3, 2009

imagist: 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.

Imagist poetry refers to the poems that paint a picture. Many times poets will incorporate the senses and express a brief moment in words.

Sandburg is very frugal in the words he chooses to describe the “fog”. There appears to be a cacophony (a harsh or discordant mix of sounds) in the way that the word is described. The opening line of Sandburg's poem suggests a loud warning. And yet he uses an antithesis of silence in the imagery of a “little cat” to demonstrate that the city will be caught unaware. Furthermore, he personifies the fog to accentuate the feeling of danger. The fact that the “fog” sits looking “over the harbor and city” is an ominous image. It emphasizes an aspect of vulnerability to the elements of nature. Man has no control over weather, which can be beautiful and destructive at the same time.

However, the fog “moves on” at the end. It does not dwell and linger above the city, but rather continues on its journey. Sandburg’s ending seems to be parallel life; we dwell upon things and eventually come to a decision and move forward.

1 comment:

Charlie said...

Sandburg presents fog like a silent stalker coming and going quickly and silently much like a cat.

The shortness of the poem and Sandburg's lack of words only emphasizes the mysterious and silent nature of the fog. It's there and gone, too fast to describe, too fast to see clearly.