Personification in Poetry (8 Examples from Poems)

What is Personification?

The impersonation of human characteristics attributed to abstract concepts and inanimate objects is called personification. It allows them to engage in human-like actions and experiences. Personification is helpful to make the description of abstract entities more vivid, relatable and engaging.

It creates imagery, emotional connections and allows the readers to understand the non-human subject being described. It has frequently been used in many kinds of literature, especially poetry. Here the readers will also find the use of personification in poetry.

Personification paves the way for the writers to personify world life by giving normal human behaviors and emotions to animals, inanimate objects, and abstract ideas. It provides the qualities of a person to an animal, an object, or an idea. It arises from a natural tendency in man to invest things and ideas with rates and passions like his own in moments of intense feeling.

Origin of Personification

The term originated in 1728.

Examples of Personification

  • The trees whispered their discontent.
  • The flowers begged for water.
  • I heard the streets speaking about you.
  • I love the sound of raindrops dancing on the roof.
  • The stars are smiling at me today.
  • I feel my computer hates me.
  • ‘Love’ is blind.
  • The popcorn leaped out of the bowl.
  • ‘Opportunity knocks at the door, but only once.

Use of Personification in Poetry

Example#1

“Mirror” (by Sylvia Plath)

“I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions.
Whatever I see I swallow immediately”.

The personification of the mirror has been described in this poem. The ‘mirror’ has been telling the story. In other words, the writer tells us this object’s importance in people’s lives.

In fact, ‘Plath shows her struggle to gain her identity in society, and she says it is necessary to look intelligent, young, and good-looking.

Example#2

“Song of the rain” by (Khalil Jibran)

“I am dotted silver thread’s dropped from heaven’,
By the gods, Nautre then takes me, to adorn
Her fields and valleys.”

In the poem, rain has been personified. The writer has displayed the rain as life-living. It gives a source of pleasure to the flowers. ‘Rain’ provides satisfaction to the human and has been considered the messenger of mercy.

Example#3

“I Wandered lonely as a Cloud” (by William Wordsworth)

“Besides the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze

“William Wordsworth” these lines compares the dancing of daffodils with humans, and in this, he has personified the daffodils with humans as human dances, so the daffodils are dancing.

“Ten thousand saw I at the glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance
The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee”

Here in the above lines, again, “Wordsworth,” while giving non-living objects (daffodils) the quality of humans, compares the quality of their dancing.

He reaches the heads of daffodils moving, and the waves near the daffodils are also dancing, which in other words, is the quality of humans.

Example#4

“Frankenstein” (by Mary Shelley)

“The moon gazed on my midnight
Labours, while, with unrelaxed and
Breathless eagerness, I pursued
Nature to her hiding-places”

In the stanza, the poet uses personification and extends human-like qualities to the moon and nature. The moon is metaphorized as an interested observer of the speaker’s dance moves.

It is an aside looker and can clearly recognize the movements of the speaker. This therefore helps bring the natural world very close to the speaker along with their activities. Likewise, the wording “nature to her “hiding-spots”, implies that nature can hide, which gives an element of mystery to the natural environment. 

In this poem, personification allows the poet to create a conversation with some elements of night that are physical and reality-based; these elements increase understanding and empathy between human and nature.

Example#5

“My Town” (by Sharon Hendricks)

“the leaves on the ground
Danced in the wind
The brook sang merrily as it
Went on its way”.

In the above stanza of the poem, the poet has personified the leaves and brook with the humans. Leaves have been displayed with the human quality of dancing as when the wind blows, the leaves dance.

Similarly, singing is the quality of humans that the brook has personified.

Example#6

“The Moon and the Yew Tree” (by Sylvia Plath)

“The moon is no door. It’s a face in it’s own right’,
White as the knuckle and terribly upset.
It drags the sea after it like a dark crime, it is quiet
With the O gape of complete despair. I live here.
twice on Sunday’, the bell’s startle the sky,
eight great tongue’s affirming the resurrection.
At the end, they soberly bong out their name’s.

Here, the moon serves as a personification and sympathizes the human condition. The imagery of the moon as “dragging the sea behind like a dark crime” embellished with this motion and much more dim connotation proves the personification of actions and feelings. 

The poet gives an outlook that the moon too is “Quiet as o’ gape of complete despair”, hence dark enough to sense and experience an extreme mental state. Furthermore, the use of personification transforms the moon into a dynamic and controversial entity. It contributes to the vivid and evocative imagery in the poem.

Example#7

“Paradise Lost” (by Milton)

“So saying, her rash hand, in evil hour.
Forth reaching to the fruit, she pluck’d, she ate,
Earth felt the wound; and Nature, from her seat,
Sighing through all her works, gave signs of woe,
That all was lost”.

Here, the personification expresses the intention of the poet regarding attribution of human-like characteristics to the Earth and Nature. 

The feeling of wound by the earth at the time of plucking the fruit personifies the sense of awareness and sensitivity. Apart from this, Nature was described as “sighing” and “giving” signs of woe, which for the most part communicates feelings as well as reactions that reside in a human. 

The process of personification applied to the story adds to the background and on top of the narration, it highlights the relevance of the fruit plucking and eating act. It fires up an accurate picture of complex relationships among people and nature and shows the entire image of their activities on the environment.

Example#8

“Cloud” (by P.B. Shelley)

“I bring fresh shower’s for the thirsting flower’s,
From the seas and the streams”

In the above lines, the thirst for flowers has been personified by humans’ appetite. The writer uses the personification of thirsting flowers that he would bring water from the seas and streams as humans to quench their thirst and get water from the oceans.

Personification in Poetry Examples
Personification in Poetry Examples

Related Terms

Metaphor

The metaphor is a figure of speech that makes comparison between two unrelated things by saying that one is the other. Metaphors make comparison to convey a deeper meaning between the two thing being compared. It is helpful to add richness to descriptions, evoke emotions and create layers of meaning by equating one thing with another symbolically.

Example: “Time is a thief”.

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