Personification means ascribing human characteristics to any non-human characters or objects, otherwise known as an abstract quality in human disguise. Personification can be expressed as an adjective, a phrase, or a verb. The intention of making things or ideas human is to create a relationship with non-human characters to impress or compel the reader to empathize with the world the writer creates, especially in fictional texts and poems. Personification gives the writer the edge of creating life and motion within inanimate characters and making them observable and recognizable. Personification also acts as imagery when the inanimate objects are shown through human facts, which also motivates the reader to experience their emotions as well. Personification makes the verses powerful, creating a deeper bond between the reader and the characters. A few examples of personification in poetry are given below.
Examples of Personification in Poems
The Fog by Carl Sandburg
The fog comes
on little cat feet.
It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.
hey diddle diddle By Mother Goose
Hey diddle, diddle,
The cat and the fiddle,
The cow jumped over the moon;
The little dog laughed
To see such sport,
And the dish ran away with the spoon.
The poem describes a cow jumping, the dog laughing, and the dish running. Thus personification plays a very important role in this poem. The given secret behind the silly imagery and funny personification makes children smile as they read the poem.
Shoe Talk By Shel Silverstein
There’s no one to talk with-
I’ll talk with my shoe.
He does have a tongue
And an inner soul, too.
He’s awfully well polished,
So straightlaced and neat
(But he talks about nothing
In this example, the poet brilliantly plays with words personifying the shoe. The speaker talks to his shoe as he is lonely and compares his shoe to an honest man who can listen to his emotions.
The Corn Flakes By Kelly Roper
All the little corn flakes were so excited
They were getting to come out and play.
They landed in the milky pool,
And began frolicking away.
A spoon dipped in to give some a ride,
And returned many times for more.
The cornflakes’ happiness didn’t last long,
Because suddenly they were no more.
In this poem, the activity of cornflakes in the milky pool is a good example of personification. The poet made the most important meal of the day, breakfast, appear interesting and healthy through this personification.
Magdalen By Oscar Wilde
And the plane to the pine-tree is whispering some tale of love
Till it rustles with laughter and tosses its mantle of green,
And the gloom of the wych-elm’s hollow is lit with the iris sheen
Of the burnished rainbow throat and the silver breast of a dove.
In this poem by famous author and poet Oscar Wilde, the speaker describes seasonal change. He also paints the picture of seasons with rich imagery as well as personification in the fourth stanza. For example, the forest is shown alive through his selection of words. The actions and impressions of pine trees, rainbow, and dove make the poem impressive with human-like qualities.
The Perfume Bottles By Kelly Roper
Pretty little bottles of perfume
Stood at attention on the dresser.
“Which one of us will she choose today?”
And they each took turns being the guesser.
“She’ll choose me,” the first one said,
“Because I smell like roses.”
“Not likely today,” the second bottle said.
“You’ll stink up everyone’s noses.”
“She’ll choose me,” the third bottle said.
“She loves how I smell like sandalwood.”
The second bottle replied again,
“She won’t choose you. I know I never would.”
The woman came in, looked at her perfumes,
Sniffed bottle two and choosed her.
Bottle two cried, “Yes! She chose me, the best;
I guess you other two are the losers
The above poem is a wonderful example of personification that also adds curiosity of choosing between the perfume bottles with their personified conversation. The dialogue among the bottles reflects the similar characteristics of humans as they argue and compete with each other.
Daffodils By William Wordsworth
I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud that floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crown,
A host, of golden daffodils,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
In this example, the poet talks about the beauty of nature and life. The mention of daffodils as the human crowd is a good example of personification as well as visual imagery. Here the daffodils are dancing and tossing like a good host, pretending to give a good company for the happiness of people.
Hope is the thing with the feather
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all
In the given example, ‘hope’ is personified. The poet is saying that hope has feathers and is also singing, which gives the abstract noun, hope, a human quality.
Tree At My Window By Robert Frost
But tree, I have seen you taken and tossed,
And if you have seen me when I slept,
You have seen me when I was taken and swept
And all but lost.
That day she put our heads together,
Fate had her imagination about her,
Your head so much concerned with outer,
Mine with inner, weather.
The tree in this poem is shown as the spirit or soul of a human. Thus, it is a good example of personification. Here the tree also appears as a person who is worried about something. The connection between the poet and the tree described in the poem is graceful.
Kubla Khan By Samuel Taylor Coleridge
And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,
As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,
A mighty fountain momently was forced:
Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst
Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,
Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher’s flail:
And mid these dancing rocks at once and ever
In this excerpt from the poem, the earth is personified just as the human being is breathing. In the same stanza, rocks are also personified as dancing rocks. Dancing is a human characteristic, but the poet has attributed this quality to rocks.