If you’ve been following our blog posts for any amount of time, you know that we’ve introduced multiple Figures of Speech that can be vitally important to hold in your songwriter’s tool belt, and utilize at will when developing lyrics. In some of the posts, we’ve mentioned Personification (pərˌsänəfiˈkāSHən), but we’ve not truly looked at it in detail. That’s what we’ll attempt to do in today’s, Songsphere Writing Tip.
Personification is a type of metaphor (metaphorical sub-type), akin to Simile and Apostrophe, and is one of the most common figures of speech. Most people use personification in everyday language, without really thinking about it, and have read it or heard it thousands of times. This figure of speech is popular because it is effective, and it is easily understood, and those characteristics make personification a particularly important device for you as a lyric writer.
So what exactly IS personification? It is the attribution of personal qualities or human characteristics to something nonhuman. In other words, attaching human traits, qualities or behavior to an a inanimate object or abstract notion.
The first rays of morning tiptoed through the meadow.
My computer throws a fit every time I try to use it.
His opportunity just walked out the door.
The ocean danced in the moonlight.
Her life came screeching to a hault.
Personification can also be defined as the use of an imaginary being to represent a thing or abstraction. For example: “Mother Nature”, “Father Time“, etc. In these cases, the being is said to “personify” the thing.
Most of us understand personification from a young age. However, it is important to remember this tool and use it to your advantage. Use it on purpose and for maximum effect.
Be sure to check out our posts on other poetic devices that are helpful in lyric writing, such as: metaphor, simile, apostrophe, assonance, synecdoche, anaphora, epiphora and others.
Just for fun, here’s a link to a little video I found on YouTube which shows personification in current songs: