Personification is used more frequently than not in poetry, and it is often overlooked for other types of figurative language that adds unique sounds. Take a look at these poems that use personification to add to the overall meaning in the poems:
#1: 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.
This nursery rhyme is filled with personification – the dog cannot laugh nor can the dish and spoon run away. Instead, the personification highlights the dreamlike world that children are about to enter.
#2: Two Sunflowers Move in the Yellow Room (by William Blake)
“Ah, William, we’re weary of weather,”
said the sunflowers, shining with dew.
“Our traveling habits have tired us.
Can you give us a room with a view?”
The sunflowers in this poem are talking to William Blake, telling him that they want to be moved because they are tired of being outside in the weather.
#3: She sweeps with many-colored brooms (by Emily Dickinson)
She sweeps with many-colored brooms,
And leaves the shreds behind;
Oh, housewife in the evening west,
Come back, and dust the pond!
On the first reading, the personification isn’t clear. However, this poem isn’t about a housewife at all, instead it is about the setting sun, personified as that housewife who sweeps.
#4: I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud (by William Wordsworth)
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Wordsworth is famous for taking nature and giving it human qualities. This poem is no different – notice how those golden daffodils dance and move in the breeze, instead of just getting blown about.
#5: Take a Poem to Lunch (by Denise Rodgers)
I’d love to take a poem to lunch
or treat it to a wholesome brunch
of fresh cut fruit and apple crunch.
I’d spread it neatly on the cloth
beside a bowl of chicken broth
and watch a mug of root beer froth.
This poem personifies a poem – treating it as something that the speaker could take to lunch, or out on the town. While it might seem humorous, there are some deeper elements lurking within the text.
#6: Whatif (by Shel Silverstein)
Last night, while I lay thinking here,
Some Whatifs crawled inside my ear
And pranced and partied all night long
And sang their same old Whatif song:
Whatif I’m dumb in school?
Whatif they’ve closed the swimming pol?
Whatif I get beat up?
Whatif there’s poison in my cup?
Whatif I start to cry?
Whatif I get sick and die?
Whatif is a poem that many elementary school teachers use because it is all about personification. These “What ifs,” or the questions we ask ourselves, physically crawl up and take over our innermost thoughts.
#7: 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.
Here, the tree is personified as someone that stands outside, and has worries and movements, instead of it just being a plain tree.
#8: To Autumn (by John Keats)
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.
This poem reflects autumn as a person, and all of the changes that are made during the season as calculated movements by a person – perhaps Mother Nature!
#9: The Mirror (by Sylvia Plath)
I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions.
Whatever I see I swallow immediately
Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike.
I am not cruel, only truthful ‚
The eye of a little god, four-cornered.
This poem suggests that the mirror that hangs on the wall isn’t just a reflective surface, but a thinking, functioning object that tells users the truth about themselves.
#10: Paradise Lost (by John Milton)
Earth felt the wound; and Nature from her seat,
Sighing, through all her works, gave signs of woe.
This classic poem from John Milton has TONS of personification, especially about the Earth. Here he makes the earth sigh as the great fall happens.