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Does the poem "The War Against the Trees" have personification in it?

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beach123 | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 11, 2008 at 6:58 AM via web

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Does the poem "The War Against the Trees" have personification in it?

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dymatsuoka | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 11, 2008 at 7:29 AM (Answer #1)

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The clearest example of personification in the poem "The War Against the Trees" focuses on the bulldozers.  Described as being "drunk with gasoline" (line 3), they act like inebriated men on a date, crudely testing "the virtue of the soil" (line 4).  Later, the bulldozers wage war against the trees, "the great-grandfathers of the town" (line 9), "charg(ing) the trees...subverting them" (lines 13-14), and "ripping (them) from...crates much too big for hearts" (line 25).

A second example of personification is nature as it is represented by the trees.  The trees are described as "giants" being "forced...to their knees" (line 18), and their ruined, ravaged bodies are given human attributes, "seizure(s) (shaking) (their) crowns" (lines 17-18), their "club roots bar(ing)...amputated coils" (line 26).

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gbeatty | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted October 11, 2008 at 7:44 AM (Answer #2)

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Yes, the poem "The War Against the Trees" definitely has personification in it. The first and overarching place you'll find it is in the title. War is fought between people, not between people and plants. Therefore, the entire poem is one huge act of personification. After that, smaller acts of personification bring each item in the poem into active and nearly human personhood. The bulldozers are said to be "drunk with gasoline," and we're told they "Tested the virtue of the soil." Since humans drink to get drunk, and drunk men were said to try the virtue of women (who had likely been drinking too), trying to penetrate them the way the bulldozer blade would penetrate the soil, we're soon given an entire world that is personified.

 

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