How does James Reeves use personification in his poem "The Sea"?

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In this poem, the sea is compared to a dog via a metaphor, a comparison of two unalike things where one (in this case, the sea, which is the literal term) is said to be the other (in this case, the dog, which is the figurative term). The poet mostly seems to use visual imagery to describe how the sea is like a dog: his color, his actions, his physical appearance. However, that figurative dog is also personified, or given an attribute associated with humans, when the speaker describes the dog as "moan[ing]" the word, "'Bones, bones, bones, bones!'" While dogs might be able to moan if they are in pain or want something really badly, they certainly are not able to say words like a human being can. In this sense, then, the figurative term in the metaphor—the "hungry dog"—is personified as being able to speak.

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Personification is a type of metaphor wherein human qualities are attributed to something that does not really have those qualities. In this poem, Reeves compares the sea not to a person, but to a dog. While this isn't strictly personification, it is a metaphor that attributes animal qualities to something else.

This poem is centered around the extended metaphor of the sea as a "hungry dog." Like a dog, the sea "rolls on the beach," with this imagery representing the sea's waves. The "moans" of the sea dog represent the sounds made by the waves, which at night become "howls and hollos." Each behavior of the sea is translated into a corresponding behavior in a dog, such as the way the spray of the stormy sea becomes a dog "shaking his wet sides over the cliffs."

Like a dog, the sea can also be calm. The final stanza depicts the sea-dog "so quiet, so quiet" as he lies on the shore, representing the sea at rest in the quiet days of summer.

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