In her poem, Emily Dickinson draws an analogy between two types of movement through space: by train and by horse. This poem is usually titled by its first line, but it is also known as “The Railway Train.”
An analogy is a comparison between two different ideas, often with the aim of providing a fresh perspective on an unfamiliar concept by drawing on one that is more familiar to the reader. In her comparison between a train and a horse, Dickinson uses the literary device of zoomorphism, which is the attribution of animal traits to inanimate objects or abstract concepts.
As the travel analogy runs through the entire poem, it constitutes an extended metaphor or a conceit. In stanza 1, Dickinson's speaker begins by describing their pleasure at seeing the train “lap,” which may evoke a horse running laps around a track or drinking the miles like water. The horse-like qualities attributed to the train include numerous actions: to “lick, “feed,” and take a “prodigious step.”
In stanzas 2 and 3, additional action verbs invoke other equine qualities, as the speaker watches the train “pare” and “fit” and “crawl” through a narrow space and “chase itself.” In stanza 4, they hear it “neigh” before the action ends as it stops upon reaching the stable.