10 examples of personification in poetry, literature and more (2023)

10 examples of personification in poetry, literature and more (1)

Personalization is an important oneliterary device– as a form of metaphor, personification compares two things quickly and efficiently, often in a poetic way. But whatises?

In this guide, we'll discuss what impersonation is, what it does, and why so many authors use it, as well as a whole host of examples to help you get used to identifying impersonation when you see it.

10 examples of personification in poetry, literature and more (2)That's not quite personalization, but it isiscute.

What is personification?

Personification is pretty straightforward, but before we can delve into what it is, we need to delve into metaphors.

Personification is a form of metaphor, a literary device that compares two things by applying the qualities of one thing to another.A famous example is Walt Whitman's line, "And thy flesh shall be a great poem." Whitman is not suggesting that your flesh is literally a poem—that would be both impossible and uncomfortable—but that your whole self is a work of art is. As part of thegrass leavesForeword where this quote came from, the quote means that through love and patience and living a life with meaning and purpose your whole lifeevenwill have meaning and purpose, just like a poem.

Although Whitman's quote is a metaphor, it is not personification.Personification is a more specific type of metaphor in which something is thatNothuman traits are given to man.Whitman's quote compares flesh, something human, to poetry, something inhuman, meaning it's not personification.

Instead, the personification looks something like this quote from John Keats' "To Autumn":

“Conspired with him how to load and bless
The vines that encircle the straws are twined with fruit.”

Here the conspiracy is autumn, and "him" is the ripening sun. Neither of these things can conspire—fall is a season and the sun is a star—butTo illustrate how perfect the season is, Keats suggests they can.

In this example, Keats gives both Autumn and the Sun the human ability to conspire.That doesn't mean Keats wants you to imagine the sun and fallliterallywhisper in each other's ears; it suggests harmony and a natural order of things.When the sun matures (another thing is nottechnical(at least not in this poem) well into the year the fruit begins to ripen on the vines in time for harvest. As the sun moves farther from Earth and the weather gets colder, the season shifts to fall as if the two are consciously working together. Hence the idea of ​​the conspiracy.

As you can see, personalization can add a more dramatic and evocative flair to the writing.If Keats's poem simply said, "The sun recedes farther from the earth as the season turns into fall, just in time for the fruit to ripen," it wouldn't feel particularly inspiring or interesting.But when he suggests that sun and fall conspire, we get a much more vivid, memorable picture of what the seasons are like.

(Video) Red Room Poetry Object Poetic Device #5: Personification | ClickView

10 examples of personification in poetry, literature and more (3)This is also not personification.

Examples of personification

Keats is just one author who uses personification—there are many different ways to use this literary device to great effect. You don't even have to be a world-renowned romantic poet to use it!

Basic examples of personalization

Since personification just means giving something that is not human the characteristics of a human, this is very easy! Check out these examples:

The starswinkedin the night sky.

Stars that have no eyes cannot blink. But when you see this set, you know they sparkle.

The bridgestretchedover the highway.

A bridge cannot stretch, but from this set we get the mental image that it is long and gracefully curved.

The cave entranceyawned.

A mouth can yawn, but a cavernous mouth cannot. Nevertheless, we get the mental picture of the far stretched cave entrance.

The smell of baked muffinswelcomedus inside.

A smell may not be welcome, but we can still understand the narrator of this sentencefeelsgreeted by the homely smell.

Poetry Examples of Personification

We often encounter figurative language like personification in poetry, where a few words must have a lot of meaning.Some of the most famous examples in poetry are:

"Because I couldn't stop for death -
He kindly stopped for me –
The carriage carried only us –
And immortality.”

- "Because I Couldn't Stop for Death" by Emily Dickinson

(Video) What is personification? 🤔 | Personification in English | Learn with examples

In this poem, death is personified as a person driving a carriage. Within the confines of this poem, death can indeedbea person; but Dickinson is not writing about a literal event that happened to her.She uses her relationship to death figuratively, illustrating how death goes about its business with no regard for mankind's work and leisure.

Big as the balls of my thumb and dumb as eyes
Ebony in the hedges, fat
With blue-red juices. These they waste on my fingers.
I had not asked for such a blood sisterhood; you must love me
They conform to my milk bottle and flatten their sides.”

- „Blackberrying“ von Sylvia Plath

Plath makes a direct comparison between blackberries and humans - she says blackberries, like eyes, are "dumb" in that they cannot speak. But we also know they can't waste, can't be a sisterhood, and can't love or conform. Plath isn't trying to tell us that these are magical blackberries with all these properties.She uses personification to illustrate her relationship with these brambles and to demonstrate a unique bond with them.Even without the context of the entire poem, Plath's use of personification shows us that these blackberries are not just fruit to her.

Literary examples of personification

Poets aren't the only writers to use personification—it's valuable for prose writers too! Check out these famous examples from literature:

“[TJ Eckleburg's eyes] do not stare out of a face but out of huge yellow glasses that go over a nonexistent nose.Apparently some wild ophthalmologist put her there to fatten his practice in the borough of Queens and then either sunk into perpetual blindness herself or forgot her and moved away. But his eyes, a little dulled from many colorless days of sun and rain, continued to brood over the celebratory dump…."

-The Great Gatsbyby F Scott Fitzgerald

If those eyes were attached to a human, it was hercouldBrut as an extension of man. But TJ Eckleburg's eyes are painted on a billboard, not attached to a human face. It is impossible for them to brood because they have no emotions.However, this quote shows the mood that casts the eyes across the valley; it's dark and desolate, andthe way Fitzgerald characterizes those painted eyesreflects that.

“There is something subversive about this garden of Serena, a sense of buried things breaking up wordlessly into the light as if to show, to say: what is silenced will be heard loudly, albeit soundlessly. […] Light streams down from the sun, but warmth also rises, from the flowers themselves, you can feel it: as if you were holding your hand a centimeter over an arm, over a shoulder. She breathes, in the warmth, breathes in.”

-The story of the maidvon Margaret Atwood

(Video) Learning Personification Poems with Darian!

This paragraph has a few instances of personalization. Buried things don't actually pop up—they grow, but "popping" means suddenly moving, which these plants don't do. Likewise, Atwood says the heat breathes. Because Heat doesn't have lungs, she can't breathe, thoughIt's clear that Atwood breathes life into everything in Serena's garden, so that even the heat has vitality.

Pop culture examples of personification

You also don't have to search for books you read in school to find a personification! Anything from TV shows to music to video games can include personifications, like these examples:

from the inside to the outside

Although everything that happens in the filmfrom the inside to the outsidecan be read that it literally happens - it's a fantasy film! – it is also a form of metaphor. We know that in real life, our emotions are not little humanoid figures walking around pulling levers, they areGiving emotions like joy and sadness human characteristics encourages the viewer to appreciate their complexity.Sadness isn't bad and joy isn't always good - when we give them human characteristics, we see that each emotion can mean multiple things!

"You try to scream, but the shock picks up the sound before you do it
You start to freeze as horror looks right between your eyes
you are paralyzed
'Cause this is thriller, thriller night
And no one will save you from the beast that is about to strike."

- "Thriller" by Michael Jackson

There are a few examples of personification in this song - in just this verse, terror "takes the lead" and horror "looks right between your eyes." Logically, we know that emotions cannot endure or look at anything. But using that kind of language to describe fear gives it a power that energizes this song. It's not hard to see why this works so well; If you've ever had anxiety, you know how it can affect how you feel about your body and sometimes paralyze you.That's what Jackson taps into in this song: the feeling that fear can trap you and make you feel out of control.

What's next?

Personification is just one of many literary devices at your disposal. Check out this list of literary devicesand how they are used for a whole lot more!

Would you like to learn more about how the valley of ash is constructedThe Great Gatsby?Learn more about it in this posthow the valley of ash works as a symbol!

Understanding how personification works can help you in AP literature—Just like this reading list for AP-lit students!

What kind of man is so easy to describefrom his motheras the embodiment of "beast" that he adopts it as his own nickname?Learn about the strange life and times of Aleister Crowley in this article.

(Video) LITERARY DEVICES | Learn about literary devices in English | Learn with examples | Figure of speech

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Melissa Brinks

About the author

Melissa Brinks graduated from the University of Washington in 2014 with a bachelor's degree in English with a concentration in creative writing. She has spent several years teaching K-12 students many subjects, including SAT preparation, to help them prepare for their college education.

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What is a good example of personification in poetry? ›

A figure of speech in which the poet describes an abstraction, a thing, or a nonhuman form as if it were a person. William Blake's “O Rose, thou art sick!” is one example; Donne's “Death, be not proud” is another.

What is personification in literature and examples? ›

Personification is a poetic literary device in which non-living things are given human traits. The most common example of personification is when we describe the wind as blowing, or the sun is shining.

What is the best example of personification? ›

Personification examples
  • “The sun smiled down on us.”
  • 'The story jumped off the page.”
  • “The light danced on the surface of the water.”
Jul 11, 2021

What are the 20 examples of personification? ›

Common Personification Examples
  • Lightning danced across the sky.
  • The wind howled in the night.
  • The car complained as the key was roughly turned in its ignition.
  • Rita heard the last piece of pie calling her name.
  • My alarm clock yells at me to get out of bed every morning.

What is personification give two examples? ›

Personification is a type of metaphor that gives human characteristics to inanimate objects and animals, such as emotions and behaviors. An example of personification is the English nursery rhyme “Hey Diddle Diddle,” which features a cow jumping over the moon.


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