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xxxviii. Signs and Wonders - Fog


"thick, obscuring mist," 1540s, a back-formation from foggy or from a Scandinavian source akin to Danish fog"spray, shower, snowdrift," Old Norse fjuk "drifting snow storm." Compare also Old English fuht, Dutch vocht, German Feucht "damp, moist." Figurative phrase in a fog "at a loss what to do" first recorded c. 1600. Fog-lights is from 1962

Bay Road, Foggy Morning

after the painting by Clarice BECKETT (c. 1920s)

The place where the bus stops

is a carefully trimmed cul-de-sac

of hedge and cloud.

A grey imponderable cave

fringed with a green hedge

where an old fence leans back

from the wave-tipped wind.

Here the day slips on wet wheels:

a slow start. On larger scale

other rhythms take their cue,

begin a shuttle between extremes.

Someone steps from the shadows

with a yellow scarf:

the fare is franked with sun.

Jeff Guess


Reflection on Fog

The Natural History of Selborne,

Gilbert White - 1789

When people walk in a deep white fog by night with a lanthorn, if they will turn their backs to the light they will see their shades impressed on the fog in rude gigantic proportions. This phenomenon seems not have been attended to, but implies the great density of the meteor at that juncture.


I'll tell thee. [To Goneril] Life and death! I am asham'd That thou hast power to shake my manhood thus; That these hot tears, which break from me perforce, Should make thee worth them. Blasts and fogs upon thee! Th' untented woundings of a father's curse Pierce every sense about thee!- Old fond eyes, Beweep this cause again, I'll pluck ye out, And cast you, with the waters that you lose, To temper clay. Yea, is it come to this? Let it be so. Yet have I left a daughter, Who I am sure is kind and comfortable. When she shall hear this of thee, with her nails She'll flay thy wolvish visage. Thou shalt find That I'll resume the shape which thou dost think I have cast off for ever; thou shalt, I warrant thee.

King Lear Act 1: 4


You are in London on one of their famous fog days. Excited about a full day of sight-seeing, you bounce out the front door of the hotel with directions to your first attraction in hand from the concierge. Pea soup. You tentatively proceed left as your directions indicate. The place where you are supposed to catch your bus is only three blocks from the hotel. How hard can it be? You should be able to make it that far, shouldn’t you?

Watch for a used book shop right across from the bus stop. How are you supposed to see a book store sign when you can’t see your hand at your side? Oh, here’s a bus stop but is this the right one? He said be careful that you don’t take the wrong bus; there are two stops close together and the wrong one lands you on the opposite side of the city. In this fog how would you find your way back? What you really need, you keep thinking, is for this fog to clear!

Barbara Lardinais

©Jeff Guess 2017

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