Personification is a figure of speech, a poetic device in which human attributes are given to animals, non-living things or ideas. The objects speak/behave like humans, with human emotions in such cases.
Uses of personification:
- The cat asked the mouse for a dinner treat.
- The dog asked his master to let him inside.
- Love is blind.
- His anger oozed out in his words.
Personifying non-living things:
- The popcorn popped out of the bowl immediately in the oven.
- The sun shined and smiled upon us early in the morning.
- When human qualities are given to objects, the writer/poet can convey the meaning easily.
- The understanding of the idea is made easier when objects are personified.
- It helps to build a character around the object.
- Makes the text/poetry more interesting and fun to read.
- Literal meanings are to be ignored in such cases.
Personification used in the poem "The River":
- O’er the yellow pebbles dancing - Water is a non-living entity and is not capable of a human art form like a dance. The author indicates the flow and movement of the water flowing is similar to witnessing a dance.
- Through the flowers and foliage glancing - Flowers and foliage existing on the way of the river flowing, is beautifully stated as they are glancing at the water.
- Like a child at play - The river is given a human form of a child, as it is in the beginning stage.
- Louder, faster, brawling, leaping - The river is assigned all human actions and emotions such as being loud, fast, leaping etc.
- Over rocks, by rose-banks, sweeping - The water moving over rocks and rose-banks is compared to a human sweeping across them.
- Like impetuous youth - The river is personified as a youth.
- Just like mortal prime - The river is personified as a human being in prime.
- Down you dash into the sea - The river is addressed as you, a term used to address a human being.
The entire poem is a personification of the river, as it is addressed directly and compared to a human being who can dance, leap, brawl etc. It is also compared to a child, a person in youth and prime as well.