Study Guide

I like to see it lap the Miles Admiration

By Emily Dickinson


I like to see it lap the Miles—
And lick the valleys up (1-2)

This seems like a pretty clear and simple expression of admiration – the speaker "likes" watching the train as it passes through the countryside. However, the likeability of the train soon becomes questionable…

And then — prodigious step
Around a Pile of Mountains — (4-5)

The speaker seems to be in awe of the ease with which the train navigates these impassive features of the landscape.

Complaining all the while
In horrid — hooting stanza — (11-12)

Hmm. Is this admirable or not? After all, nobody likes a crybaby. The speaker seems truly ambivalent towards the train at this time – "horrid – hooting stanza" is a pretty negative description. Still, even though it's negative, it's also fascinatingly evocative; we wonder what it must sound like. Even when the train's not looking (or sounding) so wonderful, it has a strange appeal.

Then — punctual as a Star
Stop — docile and omnipotent
At its own stable door — (15-17)

The speaker closes the poem with a kind of wondering admiration for the train's seeming understanding and willingness to comply with its own duty. However, "omnipotent" implies that it has a <em>choice</em> as to whether it will stay "docile" or not…