Define personification and give an example of a poem where personification is used.

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amarang9 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Personification is when an object, abstract concept, animal, event, or idea is given human characteristics or senses. A common example of personification is when a boat is referred to as "she." In this case, the boat, an object, is personified. 

Personification is used in Percy Bysshe Shelley's poem "Ode to the West Wind." He addresses the West Wind as "Thou" in the second and fifth lines. The use of personal pronouns to describe an event, animal, object, or idea suggests the poet is using personification. The speaker of the poem calls the Spring wind the (Autumnal) West Wind's "sister" indicating the two seasonal winds are siblings. 

In the final couplet of Part 1, the speaker personifies the West Wind with supernatural abilities: 

Wild Spirit, which art moving everywhere;

Destroyer and Preserver; hear, O hear! 

Even though this sounds like a comparison of the West Wind to a god, it is still a personification. 

In Part 3, the speaker personifies the Mediterranean Sea. This is indicated by the pronouns "he" and "his" which refer to the Mediterranean. 

Often, poets will use human senses or body parts to express a personified object or concept. In William Blake's "To Spring," the speaker describes Spring looking down upon the "western isle." In turn, the western isle is also personified as it is "in full choir" and sings to welcome Spring, "hails thy approach." In the second stanza, the hills talk to each other. Spring is also given human features such as having "angel eyes," "feet," and "breath." 

sesh | Student

Personification is simply the application of annimate qualities to inanimate things; objects. (and animals)

A fine example is George Herbet's poem "Avarice" which belongs to metaphysical era. throughout the poem, money is personified. The narrator adresses "Money" implying it to be animate. Herbet's aim of the poem is to say how money has become the master of human instead of slave. He needs to emphasize the power of money for that purpose, therefore he treats money as a person. This personification has thematically and technically served the whole poem.


MOoney, thou bane of bliss, & source of woe,
Whence com’st thou, that thou art so fresh and fine?
I know thy parentage is base and low:
Man found thee poor and dirti in a mine.
Surely thou didst so little contribute
To this great kingdom, which thou now hast got,
That he was fain, when thou wert destitute,
To dig thee out of thy dark cave and grot:
Then forcing thee by fire he made thee bright:
Nay, thou hast got the face of man;  for we
Have with our stamp and seal transferr’d our right:
Thou art the man, and man but drosse to thee.
Man calleth thee his wealth, who made thee rich;
And while he digs out thee, falls in the ditch.