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For 2024 Board Exam
CBSE Competency Based Questions:
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Fog | Poem Analysis| Class X | CBQs | CBSE Board Exam 2024

Updated: Nov 14, 2023


Lesson Architecture


Poet Introduction


  • Carl Sandburg (1878-1967) was a celebrated American poet, writer, and biographer known for his contributions to American literature and his deep exploration of American culture and history.


  • His literary career was marked by numerous achievements and a commitment to depicting the lives of everyday people.


  • Born in Galesburg, Illinois, Sandburg's early life was filled with hardships, but he possessed a strong desire for learning and writing. He worked in various jobs, including as a milkman and a soldier, before becoming a journalist. His journalistic background deeply influenced his writing style, characterized by its accessibility and realism.


  • Sandburg gained prominence with his collection of poems titled "Chicago Poems" (1916), which celebrated the spirit and vigor of the city. His poetry often focused on the working class, depicting their struggles and aspirations. He received his first Pulitzer Prize for the biography "Abraham Lincoln: The War Years" (1939), a monumental work that explored the life of the 16th U.S. President and won him the Pulitzer Prize for History.


  • Throughout his career, Sandburg's contributions to American literature were immense. He was awarded three Pulitzer Prizes, not only for his biography but also for his poetry, including "Complete Poems" (1950). His poems, such as those in "Fog" and "Chicago," remain well-loved for their vivid language and evocative imagery.


  • Carl Sandburg's legacy extends beyond his writing. His poetry captures the essence of American life and the resilience of its people. He played a crucial role in preserving and celebrating American history and culture through his words, making him a towering figure in the literary world and a chronicler of the American experience.




Summary


  • At first glance, this poem may seem like a basic description of fog, but there's more to it than meets the eye. Let's break it down step by step.


  • The title, "Fog," hints at what the poem is all about. It's talking about that misty, hazy stuff that sometimes covers everything.


  • Fog isn't just weather; it's something that makes things hard to see and understand. It's like a mystery, making the world look different and causing us to wonder about what's out there.


  • In this poem, the fog is given a special treatment. It's described as having "little cat feet." This makes the fog seem alive, like a sneaky cat moving quietly and gracefully.


  • Cats are known for being quiet and sly. The comparison of fog to a cat suggests that it quietly sneaks in and changes things, just like fog can suddenly appear and make the world look different.


  • The poem says the fog "sits looking over harbour and city on silent haunches." It's like the fog is sitting down and watching everything, especially the busy harbour and city.


  • The fog seems to have wisdom or knowledge about life. Even though the city and harbor change all the time, the fog remains constant. It's like it's been around forever, watching history go by.


  • The poem ends by saying the fog "moves on." This is a reminder that the fog, like life, doesn't stay in one place. It comes and goes, just like our experiences in life. Everything changes.


  • In a nutshell, "Fog" is a simple-looking poem with deep meanings. It uses the fog as a symbol for the mysteries and changes in life. The poem suggests that we should appreciate the beauty of each moment because, just like the fog, those moments will pass. It's a short but powerful reflection on how life is always changing, and we should pay attention to the world around us.



Poem Explanation:


The fog comes

on little cat feet

It sits looking

over harbour and city

on silent haunches

and then moves on.


Glossary


cat feet

The reference to "cat feet" in the poem suggests that the fog arrives quietly and stealthily, like a cat moving without making any noise, adding to the poem's atmosphere of subtlety.


Harbour

A place where ships can be docked, loaded, and unloaded; a sheltered body of water.


Haunches

The back legs or hindquarters of an animal.


Silent haunches

In the poem, the phrase "silent haunches" means that the fog sits or rests quietly and observantly, much like how an animal like a cat might sit still, watching without making any noise. It implies that the fog has a quiet and unobtrusive presence, as if it is waiting or observing without drawing attention to itself.


then moves on

The reference to "then moves on" in the poem indicates that the fog, like a passing visitor, doesn't stay in one place for long. It signifies the transient and temporary nature of the fog. Just as it arrives silently and envelops the landscape, it eventually departs, continuing its journey. This phrase can also be seen as a metaphor for the impermanence of moments and experiences in life. It reminds us that nothing remains the same, and change is a constant part of existence.



Literary Devices


Personification

The poem personifies fog by attributing human-like qualities to it.


For example, Fog is described as having "little cat feet," which gives it human-like characteristics, such as the ability to move and sit.


Metaphor

The metaphor in the poem is "little cat feet."

This comparison between fog and a cat creates a vivid image in the reader's mind. It suggests that fog moves quietly and stealthily, just like a cat.


Alliteration

Alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds in close proximity.

In this poem, the repeated "c" sound in "cat" and "comes" and the repeated "s" sound in "silent" and "sits" create an alliterative effect, adding a musical quality to the poem.


Imagery

The poem uses descriptive language to create mental images.

For example, "over harbour and city" conjures an image of fog covering these areas. This imagery helps the reader visualize the scene.


Symbolism

The fog in the poem can be seen as a symbol for mystery, change, and the impermanence of life. It obscures the familiar, much like life's uncertainties can obscure the path ahead.


Enjambment

The poem uses enjambment, where a sentence or phrase runs from one line to the next without a pause or break.

For instance, "over harbour and city / on silent haunches" continues the thought from one line to the next, creating a sense of flow and connection.



NCERT Solution ( Page 115)


I. Thinking About the Poem


(i) What does Sandburg think the fog is like?


Ans: Sandburg thinks the fog is like a quiet and stealthy cat with "little cat feet." He uses this comparison to describe how the fog approaches silently and subtly, much like a cat's movements.


(ii) How does the fog come?


The fog comes quietly and softly, like a cat with small, gentle steps. It doesn't make any noise; it just appears slowly and gently.


(iii) What does ‘it’ in the third line refer to?


In the third line of the poem, "it" refers to the fog. The line, "It sits looking," means that the fog is sitting and observing.


(iv) Does the poet actually say that the fog is like a cat? Find three things that tell us that the fog is like a cat.


Ans: The poet doesn't explicitly say the fog is like a cat, but he suggests it by describing the fog's arrival "on little cat feet," its quiet sitting, and its subtle movement.


2. Find metaphors for the following words and complete the table below. Also try to say how they are alike. The first is done for you.

​Storm

Tiger

Pounces over the fields, growls

Train

a serpent

This metaphor emphasizes the sinuous movement of a train, similar to the way a serpent moves, and the sound of the train, which can be compared to hissing due to the release of steam.

Fire

a voracious beast

This metaphor highlights the destructive and consuming nature of fire, much like a beast that devours.

School

a beehive

​This metaphor draws a parallel between the busy and productive atmosphere of a school and the collective, purposeful activities of a beehive, where each member has a role to play.

Home

a protective shell

This metaphor likens a home to the way a shell offers protection to the creature inside. It suggests that a home is a safe and secure place.



CBQs ( Competency Based Questions)


Q1. What similarities does the poet identify between a cat and fog that make the comparison meaningful?


Ans: The poet sees similarities between a cat and fog in their silent, stealthy movements. This comparison enhances the sense of quiet, gradual arrival that fog often exhibits, mirroring the subtlety of a cat's movements.


Q2. Why do you think the poet portrays the fog as a living creature?


The poet portrays the fog as a living creature to add depth and mystery to this natural phenomenon. By attributing cat-like qualities to the fog, the poet personifies it, making it more relatable and engaging for readers. This personification enhances the sensory and emotional impact of the poem, making the fog feel more like a silent, watchful presence. It also underscores the idea that the natural world, including weather elements like fog, can have a life and character of its own, even though it's not truly alive. This approach helps the poet convey the message of the poem effectively, drawing attention to the transient and mysterious nature of life and the ever-changing world around us.


Q3. What image does 'It sits looking over harbour' create in your mind?


Ans: The image created by the phrase "it sits looking over harbour" is one of quiet and watchful observation. It conjures the idea of the fog, like a silent, contemplative observer, enveloping the harbour and city with a sense of calm and mystery. This image evokes a feeling of the fog as a patient, contemplative presence, overseeing the activities of the harbour and city from above, adding a touch of enigmatic beauty to the scene.


Q4. How does the poet personify the fog in the poem?

The poet personifies the fog in the poem by attributing human-like qualities to it. The key instance is when the poet describes the fog as having "little cat feet." This comparison between fog and a cat gives the fog characteristics of quiet, stealthy movement, much like a cat's graceful and unobtrusive steps. This personification makes the fog feel alive and adds depth to its portrayal in the poem.


Q5. What is the significance of the fog "sitting over harbour and city" in the poem?


The significance of the fog "sitting over harbour and city" lies in its role as a silent observer of human activity and its representation of transience. The fog's presence suggests that it is like a watchful sentinel, quietly observing life. This can be seen in the lines, "It sits looking / over harbour and city on silent haunches." This image symbolizes the impermanence of life amidst the ever-changing city and harbor.



Q6. What does the phrase "and then moves on" in the poem suggest?


The phrase "and then moves on" in the poem suggests the transient and impermanent nature of both the fog and life. It implies that the fog, like life's experiences, is fleeting. Just as the fog arrives silently and envelops the surroundings, it eventually departs, continuing its journey. This phrase serves as a reminder of the impermanence of moments and the ever-changing nature of life.

Q7.How does the poem use metaphor to describe the fog?

Ans: The poem uses the metaphor of the fog having "little cat feet" to describe its nature. This metaphor compares the fog to a cat, suggesting that the fog moves quietly and stealthily, much like a cat's graceful and silent movements. The specific example from the poem is the first line: "The fog comes on little cat feet." This metaphor enhances the poem's imagery and creates a vivid mental picture of how the fog arrives, silently and subtly.


Q8. Why does the poet employ personification and metaphors in the poem?


The poet employs personification and metaphors in the poem to make the fog more relatable and engaging to the reader. By attributing human-like qualities to the fog and comparing it to a cat, the poet creates a more vivid and relatable image of the fog's quiet and subtle arrival. These literary devices enhance the emotional and sensory impact of the poem, making the natural phenomenon of fog feel more alive and mysterious. Additionally, these devices serve to convey deeper themes about the impermanence of life and the ever-changing natural world, using the fog as a symbol for those ideas.


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