“I Like to See It Lap the Miles”
In “I Like to See It Lap the Miles,” Emily Dickinson uses metaphoric comparisons of a train to a horse. Dickinson also uses distinctive vocabulary to emphasize objects and places in the poem, perhaps to confuse the reader on what the poem is truly about. Although the poem never mentions the words “train” or “horse”, Dickinson’s choice of words makes the reader think it is about a train.
In the poem Dickinson gives the train characteristics that relateto the horse. Dickinson uses the verbs “lap” and “lick” in the first two lines to compare the horse to the train. In the phrase,I like to see it lap the miles, “lap” is used to describe the horse running laps on aracetrack, as a train does on the railway tracks. InAnd lick the Valleys up, “lick” is used to describe the horse eating up the valley to the train’s covering distances when it travels. In the third line, And stop to feed it feed itself at Tanks is a metaphor comparing the eating of the horse stopping to feed at a tank to a train stopping to fuel up (feed itself) to keep going. In the last line And neigh likeBoanerges, the verb “neigh” gives away that the train is metaphorically a horse, because a train doesn’t “neigh,” but whistles.
The distinctive vocabulary that Dickinson uses to describe and compare the train and the horse paints word pictures in ways most would never think to do. The reader would have to know the meaning of the words that are used to understand why Emily used those specific terms in this poem. The word “Prodigious” means “huge” and describesboth the size of the train and the horse. “Boanerges” means obedient and very powerful, defining the train as a powerful mode of transportation and the horse as a powerful and obedient animal. In choosing the term “Supercilious,” which means arrogant or proud, it is harder to see what Emily was trying to compare between the train and horse. However, a horse can be arrogant and look proud, so I think...
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