What is the poetic device in the line 'the merry children spilling out of their homes'?

This is taken from the poem "My Mother at Sixty-six" written by Kamala Das, an Indian poet (the poem is below for further reference if needed),

I am arguing that it's Objectification (See a Stack Exchange answer, and the Wikipedia definition) or Chremamorphism, which is the first thing I get when searching for the opposite of Personification. But a related answer says that it is a metaphor. Why not Chremamorphism, though? After all, the children are being compared to spilled milk.

In addition, my teacher also said that "spilling milk" is a symbol of prosperity as it is a common tradition in India to boil the milk till it spills during housewarming parties. So, it might also be a symbol.

As you can see, there are many options- which one might it be?

My Mother at Sixty-Six

Driving from my parent’s
home to Cochin last Friday
morning, I saw my mother,
beside me,
doze, open mouthed, her face
ashen like that
of a corpse and realized with pain
that she was as old as she
looked but soon
put that thought away, and
looked out at Young
Trees sprinting, the merry children spilling
out of their homes, but after the airport’s
security check, standing a few yards
away, I looked again at her, wan, pale
as a late winter’s moon and felt that old
familiar ache, my childhood’s fear,
but all I said was, see you soon, Amma,
all I did was smile and smile and

  • 3
    Other things than milk can be spilled, including small solid objects such as beads. The children are running out of their doors in a random fashion like objects tumbling out of a box. I would call it a metaphor. (Milk heated for too long boils over.) Commented Nov 11, 2021 at 8:43
  • Kate is right. Thank you for giving the context, which shows that the poet is writing figuratively. The clue is 'Trees sprinting'. The verb spill is so often used in the context it appears that the Merriam Webster dictionary cites it as a standard intransitive use. "Sprinting", on the other hand I have ever seen applied to the growth rate of a living thing. It is obviously and vividly metaphorical. So to me the language is meant to be vividly figurative. If you said 'metaphorical' I doubt whether anyone would criticise you.
    – Tuffy
    Commented Nov 11, 2021 at 8:57
  • 1
    This is a standard use of the intransitive verb "to spill" given by Merriam-Webster; it's not a figurative use any more than "the merry children coming out of their homes" would be. It might be considered cosmic irony or contrast, since everyone else is happy while the speaker is sad.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Nov 11, 2021 at 11:08
  • The children are being compared to spilling milk? Where in the poem? Spilling conjures the image of abundance, chaos, randomness. And feeding time at the zoo. Commented Nov 11, 2021 at 14:37


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