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I like to see it lap the Miles

I like to see it lap the Miles

by Emily Dickinson

Lines 1-3 Summary

Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.

Line 1

I like to see it lap the Miles —

  • The speaker admires the speed and stamina of – what exactly? She only says that she likes to see "it" as it travels.
  • The double-edged verb used here, "lap," immediately brings to mind two different actions. The speaker could either be describing a racehorse, flying through the laps of a racetrack for mile, or a cat, languidly lapping up miles like milk.
  • Either way, something is moving across a landscape – fast.

Line 2

And lick the Valleys up —

  • Going off of the second meaning of "lap" in line 1, the image of the mystery animal "lick[ing] the valleys up" follows on this theme of eating and consumption. "It" is eager to eat up (metaphorically speaking) the distance it covers.

Line 3

And stop to feed itself at Tanks —

  • A final, eating-related metaphor appears here, as the mystery creature "stop[s] to feed itself at tanks" (3).
  • Hmm. "Tanks"? What kinds of animals eat out of "tanks"? We're really starting to wonder what "it" really is.
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