Personification in Poetry

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SWBAT identify personification techniques and their effect.

Big Idea

How does personification make poetry SPEAK to you?

"The Sky is Low"

20 minutes

Today we are going to look at two poems that contain personification.  The first poem is "The Sky is Low" by Emily Dickenson.  

I will have the students begin by doing a close reading of this poem.  I will read it aloud because I feel that it is very important for students to hear poetry read with fluency in order to find the literary elements and ultimately the meaning.  

As I read, I'll ask students to circle any unfamiliar words.  I anticipate that some may circle "rut" and that most of them will circle "diadem."  We will discuss the meaning of these words and consult the dictionary if necessary in order to figure it out.  

Next, I'll have the students look through the poem and underline any action words they find and double underline prepositions.  ( kids this year are not great with prepositions, so I will definitely  need to guide them through.)  I am hoping that by focusing on the verbs and prepositions, the personification will come to life. 

I'll ask my students, "What do you notice about the words you just underlined?"  If necessary I can ask them if they notice a particular literary device being used here.  

I'll ask them, "Why do you think the author chose to use these examples of personification, and what effect does it have on the poem?"

Next, we'll highlight words that show mood in the poem.  I'll ask my students, "What type of mood is the author trying to create?  

Once we have completed this close reading of the poem, I'll help them interpret the meaning.  I'll start by asking, "What is the poet comparing nature too?"  

In some of my classes, students had difficulty doing this, so I had to make the comparison clearer for them.  I had them make a t-chart on their papers and label one side "nature" and one side "wearer of a diadem."  Through this visual, most students were able to see the comparison the author was making.  

On a side note, we'll also discuss some of the examples of alliteration used in this poem.  

"Two Sunflowers"

20 minutes

The next poem we'll look at today is "Two Sunflowers Move in a Yellow Room" by William Blake.  

Again, we'll do a close reading to get familiar with the rhythm and flow of the poem.  This time as they read, I'll have students start by circling any words or phrases that they think are very descriptive.  We'll discuss some of these words together.

Next, I'll ask students to underline what the flowers do," and highlight what the flowers say. I'll ask the question, "Why do you think the author chose to have the flowers do or say things?

This will spark our discussion of personification!  I'll ask them to explain how Blake uses personification in this poem, and why he chose to use that particular technique.  

Finally, I will ask students to compare the two poems and the ways the two authors used personification.  

What are the similarities and differences between the ways the authors used personification in the two poems?  


Wrap Up

20 minutes

To end this lesson, I'm asking the students to decide which poem the like best and vote for it.  The authors used personification differently, and I'm curious which they prefer.  First, I'll ask them to have a quick discussion with their tables over which they prefer and why.  During the discussion, I'll ask them to support their opinions with specific examples from the text.  

After the discussion, we'll vote and share out our responses and thoughts on the poems.