Letter to Emotion — Personification Personified

Lesson Introduction

What Is Personification and why should I care?

Today’s lesson is about Personification — a figure of speech where non-living objects are described to seem like people.
In other words, personification means representing a non-human thing as if it were human. Personification gives human traits and qualities, such as emotions, desires, sensations, gestures and speech, often by way of a metaphor. 

Examples include: “the leaves waved in the wind”, “the ocean heaved a sigh” or “the Sun smiled at us”. In easy language personification is just pretending a non-living thing is a living thing, such as “the wind shouted”, “the bicycle ran away”. In these examples, the nonhuman subjects (wind, bicycle) are given human characteristics (anger/shout and action/running away)

Another commonly used personification is found in stories where animals and legendary creatures are personified, and this type of personification is called anthropomorphism.

ONCE AGAIN: Personification is the literary device that gives human characteristics to things that are not human. Example:
The clouds cartwheel
through the sky
The Rain Smiles
and soaks her boots

Can you think of one?

Answer These Questions:
  1. Write three colors: such as crimson, ebony, sage

  2. Write three vivid verbs or vibrant action words:  such as accelerate, cycle, creep

  3. Write three sounds: such as gasp, crumple, hiss

  4. Write three materials: such as foil, tissue, rock

  5. Write three heart emotions: Example: fear, anger, confusion (Do not use a body feeling such as hunger or cold.)

Word Bank:
colors:  olive, charcoal, magenta
verbs (can add “ing” for variety): spiraling, screeching, plowing
sounds (can add “ing”):  whisper, echo, clanging
materials: cement, burlap, silk
heart emotions: love, loneliness, joy

Directions for Writing Your Own Poem


Remember to imagine that your emotion is alive and human (but not a specific person). Use the words you have listed to write a letter to your emotion.

If you could corner your emotion in a room, what would you ask of it?
Tell your emotion how you experience it.
If your emotion were a landscape, what would it be?
If your emotion were a creature, what would it be?
If your emotion were a character, what would he or she wear?
What color eyes would he or she have?
etc, etc, etc…
Play with the shape of your poem or the line breaks.
Be sure and Title your poem

Here is an example of the scaffolding for your poem:

letter to emotion scaffolding

Download PDF of scaffolding here

I can't wait to experience what you write!


Audio & Video Inspiration

My One and One

Dear Love
If you were cornered in a charcoal room
and could not cloud the empty sky
I would pick you up like an echo
and let you sing
your clanging song
across the landscape of my skin

past the rivers of loneliness, mountains of regret
shorelines of adoration
into the olive ripe valleys of this moment
peacocks screeching, plowing their expression
with lightening tongues
unabashed, unscathed
willing to slip past the cement of loss
climb the magenta rise of sun
follow the new day
past the cypress trees
and the indelible faces
I once knew everything about
oh love, why don’t you
let your silk thoughts
spiral beyond the burlap
of memory
and whisper your honey
back into being