What do you think is the effect of the poet's use of personification?

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lusie0520 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Alfred, Lord Tennyson makes great use of personification in his poem “The Brook.”  Personification is giving human qualities to inanimate objects.  In Tennyson’s poem, he uses personification to help the reader actually see and hear the brook he is describing.   The fourth stanza is a really excellent example of this:

“I chatter over stony ways, 
In little sharps and trebles, 
I bubble into eddying bays, 
I babble on the pebbles."

When the author uses the words chatter and babble, he is using personification.  People chatter and babble; yet, when Tennyson uses these words, we can hear the sound of the brook, which is his intention.  This happens again in the tenth stanza:

            “I steal by lawns and grassy plots, 
            I slide by hazel covers...”

In this case, the words steal and slide imply sneaking by something.  Instead of just saying that, though, Tennyson lets the reader see if by using words that conjure up a picture of someone sneaking around.

In the eleventh stanza, Tennyson says:

            “I slip, I slide, I gloom, I glance...”

He implies that the brook is capable not just of slipping and sliding (implying slippery) but of emotion “gloom” and sight “glance.”  These words make the reader think of how a brook “acts” as it flows.  The water slips and slides, but in other cases it may be quiet and dark—gloomy.

In this poem, Tennyson not only tells us how a brook flows, he lets us hear and see it through his use of personification.

Read the study guide:
The Brook

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