The fountains mingle with the river
And the rivers with the ocean,
The winds of heaven mix for ever
With a sweet emotion;
Nothing in the world is single;
All things by a law divine
In one spirit meet and mingle.
Why not I with thine?—
See the mountains kiss high heaven
And the waves clasp one another;
No sister-flower would be forgiven
If it disdained its brother;
And the sunlight clasps the earth
And the moonbeams kiss the sea:
What is all this sweet work worth
If thou kiss not me?
The pathetic fallacy or anthropomorphic fallacy is the treatment of inanimate objects as if they had human feelings, thought, or sensations.
The pathetic fallacy is a special case of the fallacy of reification. The word ‘pathetic’ in this use is related to ‘pathos’ or ’empathy’ (capability of feeling), and is not pejorative.
In the discussion of literature, the pathetic fallacy is similar to personification. Personification is direct and explicit in the ascription of life and sentience to the thing in question, whereas the pathetic fallacy is much broader and more allusive.
This treatment is common in literature:
“The stars will awaken
Though the moon sleep a full hour later”
— Percy Bysshe Shelley
“The fruitful field
Laughs with abundance”
— William Cowper
“Nature must be gladsome when I was so happy”
— Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë