Poets Online Archive - Personification

Personification: A type of metaphor in which human characteristics, - honesty, emotion - are attributed to an animal, object or idea. ("Fate frowned on his endeavors.") Personification is commonly used in allegory and one of the first literary terms children encounter in school.

In our poem prompt, "Eyes Fastened By Pins" by Charles Simic from his Selected Poems, Simic personifies Death and his wife and extends it throughout the entire poem. Select an object, animal or idea that lends itself to extended personification as the subject of your poem.

Amhran na Leabhar

South of the Kerry coast
a small ship sinks --
Books its precious cargo.

Children of Ireland -
Hear that voice -
The cry of your ancestors!

On the sea floor, binding chaste,
pages pressed together --
Irish voices sing at the bottom of the sea.

Children of Ireland -
Hear that voice -
The breath of your ancestors!

Winds of the Tara
moaning, mourning
Join their voices near the clouds.



Love is out
Buying roses and a Hallmark card.
He forgot his lunch
And doesn't know what time it is.
He thinks he sees her in the crowd,
But it isn't.
His reflection in the storefront
Looks over his shoulder.
Love goes to sleep on the train
And wakes up with a start --

Jim O'Rourke


A wild cherry tree leans at the
edge of our backyard. Once graceful,
her peeling bark is shabby, past elegance.
She no longer strains upward as a
young sapling, or tenses her curling
toes deeper for strength. Desperation
holds her rotting roots in the ground.
Leaves in premature shades of yellow
drop before fall has even hinted. In a
diabetic old age frenzy, limbs perish in
embarrassment and carnage far below.
Birds sail in and out, precarious flitting
above the feeders in our yard: their visits
brief now for the dowager no longer
provides safe roosting. She creaks and
complains with the effort of tiny breezes. A
cancerous gray-green moss creeps up her
sides, holding her dignity intact. She faces,
with understanding, a youthful hackberry
tree standing across, almost touching. The
dowager is envious yet she knows "beauty
fades." Somewhere near her feet irises still
grow, stealing life during times of drought.
During the worst late summer storms, she
digs her splitting nails into the surrounding
ground. Not dead, she holds fast for
another bitter year. Memories are
all that blossom come spring.

Karen A. Kimbell

bleeding and naked my heart lays
like Jesus on His cross
waiting and asking
why have I been forsaken?

Matthew Brady


Parked to the side
Revving motors
A phalanx of tea cups
Prepare their invasion
Of propriety and warmth

White on white damask
Napkins--luncheon size
Murmur among them
Selves waiting to be
Flicked folded and
Set about deftly

Michael Z. Murphy


accept my bribes -
seeds for songs -
stay all year, emptying the feeder
in spring, knowing that I, free of winter,
will fill it faithfully, how the sunflower seeds
are to be shared with my dugout sons in summer.
They know the summer heat will make me lazy
and the supply will run out, so they find other homes.
But when fall turns colder, they lounge on the chairless deck
and I refill their store more attentively as the others leave for winter.

"Pretty," she sings to me as her mate flies from hedge to perch.
"He knows that you love his red against the snow,
how the black, cracked seeds melt into the white,
that we will stay with you again,
though you make the season
lean, your face sad
as a fallen nest,
the air not

Ken Ronkowitz


Life is like the tides of the sea,
It could be calm, lovely, peaceful and turbulent
Washing the coasts and beaches, white and lean.
Stripping it of its beauty, dignity, pride and benevolent.

Mystery he is.
For he tells not the past or the future.
But unfolds in bits, one after the other,
Every bit is a worthy experience.

He dines with princes and paupers.
Drinking cheap wine with chalices of gold.
He can be so blissful you wish to stay longer.
He can trouble till you long for home.

Oh! Life, where is thy respect?
Art thou justice or a mockery of justice?

Edidiong E Wilson


i lay in bed wrapped in
a caressing lover's hand
nurtured by a healing touch
as i am coughing, with my head bowed
i feel the warmth of his touch
embedded in this blanket
i guess that's why they call it a comforter

Brandi Semler


and walks barefoot
across the crabgrass
then bends to eat a dandelion,
stalk and all.
The roots are bitter
but even these she relishes.
Creeping to the tangled rose,
her fingers walk open
a yellow bud, beading it.
A bird mocks her.
An owl backs down.
Crop fields burnish her eye,
its lid almost closing,
half opening,--new glints
stretching the horizon.
Waking is more
then ever today.
Some sunflowers hang dead,
furred stems swelling,
others slowly roll their necks
up the backs of her knees.
Yellow jackets construct her armpits,
Left out laundry tickles her throat.
Strange winds darken her hair
but she ignores them,
still hungry, her heart a crevice
from which the dead
begin to arise.

Camille C. Patty


Each morning I note
its clarity, its hue, its need
to mimic the bay or not,
or is it the other way?
Of course it is.  In this realm
sky sets the tone.  Water does not
always follow.

Today there is acquiescence.
A milk bath and its back drop,
a lost horizon, blushes of pink,
then blue, testing the colors
to come.  Its soft skin
rolls in easy slant
toward shore where

Only the silent twirl and bob of goldeneyes
the nearness of them, their white
whiter, their black
bolder, score its serene surface;
twelve, maybe more, for who
can count the ups and downs
of diving ducks?

This day will step from her bath,
take a cue from wind and clouds,
dress accordingly.

Tomorrow will be different,
scud clouds for contrast,
the blue bluer, mournful gulls riding
restless steel tipped in white froth,
the sky splintered shards
that rise, dip, rise again,
never in the same place twice.

Joan Reilly DeRosa



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