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Personification

A figure of speech in which the poet describes an abstraction, a thing, or a nonhuman form as if it were a person. William Blake’s “O Rose, thou art sick!” is one example; Donne’s “Death, be not proud” is another. Gregory Corso quarrels with a series of personified abstractions in his poem “The Whole Mess . . . Almost.” Personification is often used in symbolic or allegorical poetry; for instance, the virtue of Justice takes the form of the knight Artegal in Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene.

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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