Personification in poetry can show inanimate objects taking on human characteristics, making them seem more relatable, and often funny. Personification occurs in many forms of literature, especially where figurative language is used.
Many funny examples of personification can be found in children’s poetry, which helps to capture children's imagination. Personification is often used in nursery rhymes such as Hey Diddle Diddle:
Hey diddle, diddle,
The cat and the fiddle,
The cow jumped over the moon;
The little dog laughed
To see such sport,
And the dish ran away with the spoon.
Another of the humorous examples of personification in poetry is a poem called A Cat Named Joe by Leighton B Watts, where a cat thinks in a different way than cats usually think. Here is an excerpt:
There's a cat named Joe and you wouldn't want to know
But he thinks he'd like to be a Hippopotamus
And it sounds very strange, and he really wants to change
And in that way he's just like a lot of us
Oh, it wouldn't be so bad if he was certified as mad
But he's not... he holds a normal conversation
It's just that within he's in a different kind of skin
And it causes him a lot of botheration
This funny anonymous poem is written from a child’s perspective and personifies food. It is called My Dinner Loves Dancing and an except follows:
My food loves to prance, to jump, to dance;
I wait for the time, I wait for the chance!
As mommy goes in and out of the room; tables and chairs become their ballroom!
I flick my fingers; swing my wrist.
Beans and turkey are doing the twist!
Peas, plumbs, apples or mangos;
on to the walls, they're doing the tango!
Personification is also used to humorous effect in some adult poems.
In Take a Poem To Lunch by Denise Rodgers the poet imagines what a poem would be like to have lunch with:
I'd love to take a poem to lunch
or treat it to a wholesome brunch
of fresh cut fruit and apple crunch.
I'd spread it neatly on the cloth
beside a bowl of chicken broth
and watch a mug of root beer froth.
I'd feel the words collect the mood,
the taste and feel of tempting food
popped in the mouth and slowly chewed,
and get the smell of fresh baked bread
that sniffs inside and fills our head
with thoughts that no word ever said.
And as the words rest on the page
beside the cumin, salt and sage,
and every slowly starts to age,
like soup that simmers as it's stirred,
ingredients get mixed and blurred
and blends in taste with every word
until the poet gets it right,
the taste and smell
and sound and sight,
the words that make it fit.
Since we've provided a funny poem about cats, it only seems fair to give dogs their due as well. So, here's Denise Rodgers humorous personification poem If Dogs Could Talk.
If dogs could talk, what they would say
would simply take your breath away.
Like: I don't want to see your knees.
Or: Pass a bit of roast beef, please.
When dawning sun shines in the east
they'd say: It's time for morning's feast.
When silent, still and somewhat broodish,
their minds are simply on your food dish.
Some might speak with British accent,
sniffing one another's back scent.
Some might lisp and some might stammer,
some would have atrocious grammar.
Some would chitchat, some would twaddle.
Some would rush and some would dawdle.
Curling on your soft bed nightly,
most would say: Good night,
Your dinner rarely speaks to you in real life, but Sharon Hendricks gave it some personality in her Dinnertime Chorus.
The teapot sang as the water boiled
The ice cubes cackled in their glass
the teacups chattered to one another.
While the chairs were passing gas
The gravy gurgled merrily
As the oil danced in a pan.
Oh my dinnertime chorus
What a lovely, lovely clan!
Sharon Hendricks also considered what would happen if inanimate objects around town could speak in My Town.
The leaves on the ground danced in the wind
The brook sang merrily as it went on its way.
The fence posts gossiped and watched cars go by
which winked at each other just to say hi.
The traffic lights yelled, ”Stop, slow, go!”
The tires gripped the road as if clinging to life.
Stars in the sky blinked and winked out
While the hail was as sharp as a knife.
Carter and Joe tackled a big subject in their personification poem Planet Space.
The black hole awoke,
He stretched his mouth with a mighty roar,
As he beckoned all the stars,
The black hole started to erode,
Is this the end...?
The sun says, 'Leave the stars alone and,
Pick on someone your own size,
Oh yeah, I almost forgot, leave my solar system and never come back!'
Earl Graham's personification poem Kiss is both sweet and funny.
I am sending you a kiss
That will land on your knee,
Climb up your leg,
Scramble over you back,
And hide in your hair.
Then, when you are about to fall asleep,
It will bite you gently on your neck
And whisper in your ear, ‘I love you’.
Figurative language is the overall description of language that compares two things in an unusual and interesting way and is often used in poetry.
There are six other types of figurative language in addition to personification:
Figurative language and personification in poetry adds vividness, helping you paint a mental picture more easily than just simple words alone. It can change the way you perceive the poem and can even change the meaning of the poem, and if it can make you laugh or smile while it's doing it, so much the better!