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Personification
'Every leaf speaks bliss to me'. Is this an example of personification?

Personification

Personification is when writers give human characteristics to objects, ideas or animals. It is used so frequently, especially in poetry, that it can be hard to spot at times. The wind, for example, is often described as having a human voice - it howls, or whispers, or even shouts. Personification is one of many methods writers have for writing vividly and for engaging their readers' senses.

See how well you can spot the technique by trying this English quiz.

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1.
Find the example of personification in the following quotation.
From 'Chain of Pearls', by Rabindranath Tagore:
'Mother, I shall weave a chain of pearls for thy neck'
'The stars have wrought the chains of night to deck thy feet'
'Wealth and fame come from thee'
'And it is for thee to give or to withhold them'
2.
Find the example of personification in the following quotation.
From 'Fall, Leaves, Fall', by Emily Bronte
'Fall, leaves, fall; die, flowers, away'
'Lengthen night and shorten day'
'Every leaf speaks bliss to me'
'Fluttering from the autumn tree'
3.
Find the example of personification in the following quotation.
From 'On the Dark Height of Jura', by Percy Bysshe Shelley:
'Ghosts of the dead! have I not heard your yelling'
'When o'er the dark aether the tempest is swelling'
'For oft have I stood on the dark height of Jura which frowns on the valley...'
'O father! thy voice seems to strike on mine ear'
In Shelley's poem, the island 'frowns', the wind 'howls', the whirlwind 'roars' and the storm has 'breath' and 'fury'
4.
Find the example of personification in the following quotation.
From 'De Profundis', by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
'The cold before my summer's done'
'And tender friends go sighing round'
'And here, with hope no longer here, while the tears drop, my days go on'
'The heart which, like a staff, was one for mine to lean and rest upon'
Elizabeth Barrett Browning uses the simile of a heart like a staff for her own heart, personified, to 'lean and rest upon'
5.
Find the example of personification in the following quotation.
From 'Awaking in New York', by Maya Angelou:
'Children sleep, exchanging dreams with seraphim'
'The city drags itself awake on subway straps'
'I, an alarm, awake as a rumour of war'
'Lie stretching into dawn'
Maya Angelou's unusual line evokes the image of sleepy commuters hanging onto the straps of overcrowded subway trains
6.
Find the example of personification in the following quotation.
From 'April Rain Song', by Langston Hughes:
'The rain makes still pools on the sidewalk'
'The rain makes running pools in the gutter'
'The rain plays a little sleep song on our roof at night'
'And I love the rain.'
7.
Find the example of personification in the following quotation.
From To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee:
'Suddenly I noticed that the men were backing away from Miss Maudie's house.'
'The fire...had eaten its way to the roof.'
'Smoke was rolling off our house...like fog off a riverbank.'
'Another fire truck appeared and stopped in front of Miss Stephanie Crawford's.'
8.
Find the example of personification in the following quotation.
From 'Asleep', by Wilfred Owen
'Under his helmet, up against his pack'
'After so many days of work and waking'
'Sleep took him by the brow and laid him back'
'There, in the happy no-time of his sleeping'
9.
Find the example of personification in the following quotation.
From Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck:
'The red light dimmed on the coals.'
'Up the hill from the river a coyote yammered...'
'The sycamore leaves whispered in a little night breeze.'
'The bunk house was a long, rectangular building.'
'Whispering' is a human activity
10.
Find the example of personification in the following quotation.
From a film review, by Stella Papamichael, of Ocean's Twelve:
'As luxuriously slick as the warm vat of hair wax that went into its making...'
'George Clooney, along with his well-groomed gang of merry thieves...'
'Lounge like catalogue models...'
'This sequel drags its heels'
Examples of personification are found not only in poetry and the novels you study for exams -authors can use the technique in any kind of writing, like this film review
Author:  Sheri Smith

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