My Shadow

My Shadow
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.
Robert Louis Stevenson
Robert Louis Stevenson

It is sadly ironic that one of the writers who wrote best about Scotland and the Scottish character was not able to live in the country, and died far from his native land, a novel imbued with the essence of Scotland under his pen on the day he died.

 

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About My Shadow

This poem was reproduced on a postcard for National Poetry Day 2015. Eight poetry postcards are published each year by the Scottish Poetry Library to celebrate National Poetry Day and are distributed throughout Scotland to schools, libraries and other venues. The theme for 2015 was 'light'.

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