Personification

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.

Examples:
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, assonancesynecdoche, 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:

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Apostrophe


Over the last couple of months we have been touching on different figures of speech that are helpful tools for writing lyrics.  These blog posts introduce Simile, Metaphor, Synecdoche, Anaphora & Epiphora (one of our most popular posts), Alliteration and Assonance.  Check them out, if you haven’t already.

Apostrophe is an exclamatory rhetorical figure of speech in which some absent or nonexistent person or thing is addressed as if it were present and capable of understanding.

Here are a couple of popular examples of apostrophe that you may recognnize:

  • O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?   (1 Corinthians 15:55)
  • “Hello darkness, my old friend, I’ve come to talk with you again…”   (Paul Simon, “The Sound of Silence”)

Apostrophe is related to personification, another figure of speech in which objects are represented as a person or implied to have human qualities/abilities (example: The fire roared with anger). The two can be combined, however with apostrophe, the object is actually addressed directly by the speaker or writer.

Most often, apostrophe is used as a tool to communicate extreme emotion, an example of such being Claudius’ passionate speech in Shakespeare’s  Hamlet.

Test various figures of speech in your next few lyric sessions.  See how they work for you.  You may find them to be helpful tools.