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Analysis


Symbolism, Imagery, Wordplay

Welcome to the land of symbols, imagery, and wordplay. Before you travel any further, please know that there may be some thorny academic terminology ahead. Never fear, Shmoop is here. Check out our...

Form and Meter

Dickinson's poems are often described as "hymn-like," which is actually a pretty good way of thinking about her sing-songy, musical verse; they're best read aloud to make sure you really feel the c...

Speaker

The speaker in this riddle is even more mysterious than the subject of the riddle itself. We figure out that she's talking about a train ("she" being an arbitrary gender assignment) – but who is...

Setting

The landscape the poem takes us to is fairly non-specific, but we can imagine it clearly nonetheless. The speaker describes a train winding its way over miles, dipping through valleys and around an...

Sound Check

Even before we figure out that "I like to see it lap the Miles" describes a train in motion, we can already feel the "chugga chugga (choo choo!)" rhythm of the railway. Dickinson's poem possesses a...

What's Up With the Title?

Dickinson wasn't one for giving poems grand (or even explanatory) titles – or, for that matter, any titles at all. Instead, her poems are most commonly referred to by their first lines (in this c...

Calling Card

Dickinson's poems are deliciously deceptive in their apparent simplicity. When read aloud, this poem, like many of her others, seems effortlessly consistent and delightfully smooth. However, upon c...

Tough-o-Meter

Though this poem may seem kooky and confusing on a first reading (as it's supposed to – after all, it's a riddle), it's actually pretty straightforward, as Dickinson poems go. Compared to her mor...

Trivia

Emily's father, Edward Dickinson, was instrumental in bringing the railroad to Amherst, MA, and he even led a parade in honor of the first train (source).It's possible to sing all of Emily Dickinso...

Steaminess Rating

Sex is just a non-issue here. This poem expresses wonder, fascination, admiration – but that's about it. In fact, there aren't even any human bodies present at all.

Allusions

Mark 3:17 (line 13 – "Boanerges")
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