Consumption (eating, drinking)
The general theme of the first stanza is eating and drinking – the train is a ravenously hungry creature, and as it travels, it consumes and consumes. There's some interesting mixed feelings here; while the speaker claims to "like" watching it, the hungry animal is a little menacing in its devouring path through the countryside. We're not sure what exactly to make of it…but maybe that doesn't matter. After all, the personified train is capable of eating all it wants, without our permission (it can even feed itself without human help, apparently, as we see in line 3).
- Lines 1-2: The speaker announces that she enjoys the way the train eats up the landscape – the alliteration here ("like," "lap," "lick") implies the speaker savors her view of the train the way that the train savors its consumption of the miles and valleys.
- Line 3: The creature "stop[s] to feed itself at tanks" – literally, to refuel itself for the journey ahead. What's interesting about this image is the idea that the train feeds itself, rather than being fed by human caretakers.