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Personification as a Poetic Device

In it’s most simple form personification is a poetic device where animals, plants or even inanimate objects, are given human qualities. I said simple because, in it’s basic form, if we imagine a rabbit hunting with a 4-10 shotgun that is personification, and that is a fairly simple idea.

Now, let us think about the words “the lightning danced across the sky,” they too are personification. So, too, is the idea that “the moon played hide and go seek throughout the night; the clouds shed tears of joy as they helped the moon.” As you can see there is metaphor within personification and it can be used to make metaphors deeper with skill.

William Wordsworth is famous for his use of this poetic device. Through out his poetry you will find examples of personification. In the poem, “As I Wondered Lonely as a Cloud” by Wordsworth he employees the same technique as the concept of the moon playing hide and go seek, except with the flowers and the breeze. He also is not quite so forward in his description, giving us these lines:

When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees.
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

The above excerpt comes from a very loved poem within the English language and to me I don’t think it would be the same without personification, especially these lines. Imagine a universe where he had instead said:

“When at once I saw golden daffodils,
beside the lake, beneath the trees
blowing in the mornings cold breeze”

Even though I have gone to a little length to make it so the lines are more poetic than simply chopping out the personification, these still seem less worthy. Even if I continued and rhymed something to daffodils in the next line, they just would not be the same. So, long story short if nature cannot describe itself with its vast amount of images, go ahead and related it back to human things and give it personality because sometimes it works.

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