Study Guide

Fog Introduction

By Carl Sandburg

Fog Introduction

It's short, it's cute, and it makes sense. It's not every day we can say that here at Shmoop, but this time we really mean it.

Carl Sandburg packs a big punch in his six-line poem, "Fog," first published in 1916. But the punch isn't a mean one or a confusing one either. It's a cute one instead that looks like a kitty and gets us thinking about more than just fog and cats. And that's no easy feat, considering that each word belonging to such a short poem must carry lots of profound ideas to get us going.

To top it all off, Sandburg is known for speaking a "language of the people," meaning he's not trying to throw in a bunch of ideas and words that everyday folks can't really identify with. Using this kind of simple language could also explain why he packs so much meaning into so few words. In fact, he's often compared to Walt Whitman because of the sort of ease and simplicity he demonstrates in his work without getting super-highbrow on us.

"Fog" is no exception. The simple metaphors and imagery he uses captivate our imaginations and evoke a broad spectrum of emotions and ideas ranging anywhere between surprise, awe, and fear, to name a few. And since it's so short, you might even feel compelled to give it a few reads and see how many different ideas come to mind.

What is Fog About and Why Should I Care?

Besides it being short and simple, "Fog" looks cool too, and we're not just saying that because we have to. Imagine the creeping and quiet way a fog tends to roll in. It's mysterious, unpredictable, maybe even a little scary, and who doesn't like imagining stuff that looks like that?

With all that imagination exercise, you might even feel inspired to brew up a few of your own pithy metaphors. They might even prove useful if you're ever stuck in a fog and in need of some figurative language to help lift those spirits.

And even if you don't give a hoot about pithy metaphors, you'll likely encounter a similar looking fog somewhere at some point that will get you thinking about its catlike ways. And hey, that's cool all by itself. So whether or not you want to knock your friends off their feet with some figurative language, chances are you'll get a nod or two that acknowledges Carl Sandburg's awesome metaphor.

Fog Resources

Websites

Everything Sandburg
He's got a one-stop shop equipped with everything you'll ever want to know.

"Nonsense is for Everyone."
That's right. It's okay to be nonsensical and Sandburg encourages it!

Sandburg and Pound
Our man names Pound as the single most influential maven of words.

Video

Foggy and Groovy
Here's a cool reading and video of "Fog."

A New Sandburg Documentary
The Day Carl Sandburg Died chronicles his life, political views, and of course works.

Monroe and Sandburg
Yup, they were friends—platonic friends of course.

Audio

Sandburg Has a Dreamy Voice
Listen to the poet reading "How Six Umbrellas Took Off Their Straw Hats to Show Respect."

Sandburg Sings America!
More links to Sandburg, the folk musician.

Images

The Man Himself
He kind of looks like a sleepy kitty here.

Kitties and Fog
This kitty checks out the fog.

The Little Cat Feet
The kitties leave their mark in Sandburg's poem.

Articles and Interviews

Sandburg and Lincoln
As a historian, Sandburg wrote a lot about the man who helped change it all.

Sandburg On Race
The poet was also a journalist and wrote a lot about the racial tensions of his time, especially those in Chicago.

Books

Chicago Poems
Here's the complete collection.

The Other Carl Sandburg
This is all about the days before he was famous and what got him there.

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