Poetic (literary) devices used in the poem ‘Fog’ are given here. The text of the poem is also given to relate the literary devices with the poem.
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Poem ‘Fog’ Text
The fog comesCarl August Sandburg
on little cat feet.
It sits looking
over harbour and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on
Explanation of the Poem ‘Fog’
This short poem is an expression of the view of fog. For the poet, fog is not just a natural phenomenon, it is rather a creature. Fog has been compared with a cat as the way fog comes, is very similar to the ways of a cat. As a cat walks silently on its small feet, the fog also comes in the same manner, as if trying to avoid any attention. Fog’s presence over and around a city seems as if a cat is sitting silently on its haunches and looking over the harbour and the city. Finally, when fog leaves a city, it looks like a cat’s slow and silent steps moving on from a place.
POETIC DEVICES ‘Fog’ Poem
Poetic devices enhance the structure, meaning and appeal of the poems.
A few key literary elements in the poem are:
- Rhyme Scheme
- Transferred Epithet
The poem does not have a rhyme scheme since it is written in free verse.
Enjambment: Enjambment refers to the continuation of a sentence or clause from one line of poetry to the next without a pause or punctuation.
The lines from “it sits……..” to .”…move on” are examples of the use of enjambment.
Metaphor: It is a comparison without using the words ‘like’ and ‘as’. Metaphor describes an object or action in a way that is not literally true, but helps explain an idea or make a comparison.
Here ‘cat’ refers to ‘fog’ and vice versa
- Sandburg extensively uses metaphors in the poem to draw comparisons between nature and a cat.
- In the line ‘The fog comes on little cat feet’, Sandburg has indirectly compared the fog with a cat.
- He also compares the behavioural movement of both with fog settled over the city compared to a cat sitting on its hind legs in the line ‘It sits looking over harbour and city on silent haunches and then moves on’.
- In the same line, the poet says that fog leaving the city is like a cat leaving a place quietly.
Comparison of fog to a cat is the analogy here throughout the poem.
Personification: providing human atributes to non-living things.
- The words ‘It sits looking/over harbour and city’ are an example of personification.
- The fog, which is a thing, has been shown doing the actions of sitting and ‘looking’ here.
Imagery: Use of descriptive language to create or inspire genration of visuals in mind and thoughts.
- Sandburg uses simple words to create a vivid description of the fog.
- The phrases ‘the fog comes on’, ‘sits looking’ and ‘moves on’ invoke imagery of movement in the poem. They create an image of the fog entering, settling over and, then finally moving away from the city.
- The phrases along with ‘little cat feet’ and ‘silent haunches’ come together to compare the actions of the fog to that of a cat.
Transferred Epithet: Epithet is nothing but adjective or phrase that shows/describes the quality of a person or a thing. It is called transfered epithet when this attribute (quality or description or adjective) is transfered from the one it appears it is used for to any other one nearby in the sentence.
The phrase ‘on silent haunches’ is an example of transferred epithet. Here, ‘haunches’ are not ‘silent’. Rather, the phrase refers to how a cat silently sits on its back legs.