Robert Louis Stevenson is mostly remembered for his such as Treasure Island and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. There is more when it comes to the work of this Scottish writer, poet and musician. This is the poem “My shadow.”
This poem was originally written for children. Actually, this poem is written from the point of view of a child. This child tells us about his inability to truly understand what his shadow is about. It seems to move in a strange way.
Who hasn’t played some game during their childhood that involved shadows? It is both magical and mystical. As is the poem written by Stephenson.
Remember those moments, when lying in your bed. Those shadows surrounding you. What could they be? The child in this poem doesn’t know why this shadow is there and that it is just his or her own reflection. As the child grows older, understanding these shadows is part of growing up. It seems as if Stephenson wants to make us see, that there is nothing wrong with this childish innocence.
Based on the fact that Stephenson uses “he” to define this shadow, it is safe to assume he is telling us about his own childhood. A beautifully written poem.
I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me,
And what can be the use of him is more than I can see.
He is very, very like me from the heels up to the head;
And I see him jump before me when I jump into my bed.
The funniest thing about him is the way he likes to grow –
Not at all like proper children, which is always very slow;
For he sometimes shoots up taller like an india-rubber ball,
And he sometimes gets so little that there’s none of him at all.
He hasn’t got a notion of how children ought to play,
And can only make a fool of me in every sort of way.
He stays so close beside me, he’s a coward you can see;
I’d think shame to stick to nursie as that shadow sticks to me!
One morning, very early, before the sun was up,
I rose and found the shining dew on every buttercup;
But my lazy little shadow, like an arrant sleepy-head,
Had stayed at home behind me and was fast asleep in bed.
Just for children?
To play with shadows, isn’t something just for children, as you can see in this YouTube video:
We decided to change this article and to again publish it, since we added a biography of Robert Louis Stevenson.