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I like to see it lap the Miles (585)

I LIKE to see it lap the miles,
And lick the valleys up,
And stop to feed itself at tanks;
I like to see it lap the miles
And then, prodigious, step
Around a pile of mountains,
And, supercilious, peer
In shanties by the sides of roads;
And then a quarry pare

To fit its sides,
And crawl between,
Complaining all the while
In horrid, hooting stanza;
Then chase itself down hill

And neigh like Boanerges;
Then, punctual as a star,
Stop--docile and omnipotent--
At its own stable door.

Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

Most experts think Emily Dickinson composed this poem around 1862. It was published in a collection titled Complete Poems in 1924. Composed in an abcb off-rhyme. She was writing about two railroad lines that came to her hometown of Amherst, Massachusetts. Line six uses the word pare in the sense of the paring of sod or earth.

A dictionary is always useful when reading Dickinson as she was almost pedantic when it came to her use of vocabulary. Line nine uses the word sides perhaps she thought this made a more accurate use of the meaning she wished to deliver because the existing manuscript version of poem 585 reads "ribs" The Manuscript Books of Emily Dickinson, edited by R. W. Franklin in volumes (Cambridge, Mass., and London: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1981). Boanerges refers to a passage in Mark 3:17 describing how Jesus named his disciples, the brothers James and John, "Boanerges, which is, The sons of thunder" which has become a popular name for racehorses.


Public domain text taken from Bartleby.com:

I like to see it lap the miles:
academic.brooklyn.cuny.edu/english/ melani/cs6/train.html

The Poet's Corner:

For copyright information please see my write-up under Emily Dickinson.
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