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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.
Personifying animals:
  1. The cat asked the mouse for a dinner treat.
  2. The dog asked his master to let him inside.
Personifying ideas:
  1. Love is blind.
  2. His anger oozed out in his words.
Personifying non-living things:
  1. The popcorn popped out of the bowl immediately in the oven.
  2. The sun shined and smiled upon us early in the morning.
Uses of personification:
  1. When human qualities are given to objects, the writer/poet can convey the meaning easily.
  2. The understanding of the idea is made easier when objects are personified.
  3. It helps to build a character around the object.
  4. Makes the text/poetry more interesting and fun to read.
  5. 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.