Some short poems that make use of personification include William Blake's "The Sick Rose" and John Donne's "Death, Be Not Proud," also known as "Holy Sonnet X." In both poems, something nonhuman, whether an idea or, in Blake's case, a plant, is referred to as though it were human. Both poems also rely on this personification throughout, a form of extended metaphor known as a conceit.Continue Reading
In Donne's "Death, Be Not Proud," it is the abstract concept of death that is personified, allowing the poet to address it directly as a listener. The personification is achieved through the use of words such as "thou," "thee" and "thy." For instance, the poem begins: "Death, be not proud, though some have called thee / Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so." The image in the poem is one of death as a kind of Grim Reaper figure, leading away from life "our best men." As a person, however, death is also vulnerable. The poet highlights this by pointing out that, while mortals die, their souls live on eternally and death itself "shall be no more." Donne concludes the poem with "Death, thou shalt die."
In "The Sick Rose" William Blake personifies the rose and tells it that it is sick. The technique of personification here is similar to Donne's, with the use of "thy." Blake also capitalizes the word "Rose," as if it were a given name, in addressing the flower.Learn more about Poetry