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In the poem ‘My Shadow’, the speaker refers to his shadow as a “he,” as if it were another youngster who follows him about. The poem is addressed to two groups of people: children everyone else who wants to experience the beauty of childhood. The speaker of the poem describes how another boy follows him around everywhere. When he’s playing, it’s clings to him so much, that it’s awkward for both of them. The shadow also possesses the unusual capacity to shrink and grow quickly, unlike a typical boy.
About The Poet
Robert Louis Stevenson was a philosopher, journalist, poet, and travel writer who lived in Scotland. Treasure Island, Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Kidnapped, and A Child’s Garden of Verses are among his best-known works.
Theme Of The Poem
The poem’s main idea is to show how a child is fascinated and delighted by his own reflection. The child is perplexed as to how the shadows vary for everyone. He is taken aback by his own shadow, and he begins to notice everything about it. The child’s shadow follows him around and performs whatever the child does. This piques the child’s interest.
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 speaker of ‘My Shadow’ opens the first verse by characterizing his shadow as a companion. It’s something he carries with him everywhere he goes. Despite the fact that the little narrator has no idea what his shadow is, he recognizes it as a boy. The speaker describes his shadow as “little” and that it follows him “in and out.” One of the first things he sees is how the shadow reflects him. Following that, the speaker comes to realize that his shadow has no meaningful role. The speaker has no idea what “use of him” is. The shadow is identical in every way from the “heels to the head.” When he depicts the shadow jumping onto the bed before him, he is referring to his own feelings being replicated.
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.
The second stanza focuses on the peculiar qualities of the shadow that the child notices. He alludes to how the appearance varies as the sun moves across the sky. It appears to him to be a highly unusual characteristic for a child to have. The speaker compares the shadow’s rapid development to the bounce of an “India-rubber ball.” It happens so quickly that it’s difficult to keep up. In a similar way, the child’s shadow sometimes shrinks until he is almost invisible.
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.
In the last stanza, the speaker recounts a moment when the shadow did not appear. He portrays the incident as yet another strangeness of the crazy shadow that follows him about. He recalls a time when he awoke before sunrise. He could see the “shining dew on every buttercup” since he was up so early. The shadow, instead of following him on this early morning stroll, remains in bed like “an arrant sleepy-head.” This, according to the speaker’s tone, was a poor judgement.