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Posted by Manjusha Filed in English Writing

In personification, either an inanimate object or an abstract idea is spoken of as though it were endowed with life and intelligence.

  • Necessity is the mother of invention.
  • Pride goeth forth on horseback, grand and gay.
  • Sky lowered and muttering thunder, some sad drops
    Wept at completing of the mortal sin. (Paradise Lost by Milton)


An apostrophe is a direct and explicit address either to an absent person or to an abstract or nonhuman entity. Many odes are such an address to a listener who is not literally able to listen. John Keats' 'Ode on a Grecian Urn' is an apostrophe addressed to an Urn and Samuel Coleridge's, "Reflections of Love' is an apostrophe addressed to an absent woman.

Many apostrophes imply a personification of the nonhuman object that is addressed. If such an address is to a god or other supernatural being to assist the poet in the composition, it is called an invocation.

Here is how John Milton invokes divine guidance at the opening of Paradise Lost.

  • And chiefly Thou, O spirit, that dost prefer
    Before all temples th' upright heart and pure,
    Instruct me…

An apostrophe is a special form of personification.

  • Roll on, thou deep and dark Blue Ocean, roll!
  • O solitude! Where are the charms
    That sages have seen in thy face?
  • O death! Where is thy sting?
    O grave! Where is thy victory?



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