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Dickinson vs. Whitman

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The Personified Train: Dickinson vs. Whitman

Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman are considered to be exceptional influence in American poetry. Both poets possess a different style of writing, but many of their poems have similar themes about the environment that surrounds them. Dickinson's "I Like To See It Lap The Miles" and Whitman's "To A Locomotive In Winter" revolve around the theme of trains. Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman portray trains to have body parts, sounds, and movements analogous to animals.

Firstly, both poets personify trains to have parts similar to animal's body parts. In, "I Like To See It Lap The Miles", Dickinson portrays the train "to fit its ribs" (line 9). The ribs represent the tracks for the train and that is the support for the trains to run. Tracks are essential for trains just as ribs are for animals. While in, "To a Locomotive in Winter", Whitman portrays the train to "…in thy panoply, thy measur'd dual throbbing and thy beat convulsive" (line 3). The train is personified to have a heart just as animals do. The train's heartbeat can be easily heard beating intensely against all the metal. Dickinson and Whitman personify parts for the train as body parts that are significant for an animal- ribs and heart.

Secondly, the poets each personify the train to make sounds as an animal. Dickinson portrays the train to "neigh" (line 14). The horn of the train is personified as the neigh of a horse. On the other hand, Whitman's train has a "madly-whistled laughter" (line 20). The train is personified to have a laughter resembling a hyena. Both poets resemble the sounds made by the train to be loud and some may even consider them as obnoxious.

Lastly, both poets personify the movements of the trains to the movements of an animal. Dickinson describes how she likes to see trains "lap the Miles" (line 1). The train laps miles just as a cheetah would. Walt Whitman describes it as "thy trains of cars behind, obedient, merrily following"...