Robert Louis Stevenson was a very prominent Scottish poet and author. He has written many books on fiction and travel. Some of his notable works are ‘Treasure Island’, ‘Kidnapped’ and ‘Strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’.
The theme of the poem is to portray how a child gets excited and thrilled by his own shadow. The child is curious and wonders how the shadows keep changing for everyone. He is impressed by his own shadow and so he starts noticing everything about his shadow. The shadow moves with him wherever he goes and does everything the child does. This builds more curiosity in the child.
In this poem, Robert Louis Stevenson says, everyone has a shadow of himself but he cannot understand the use of it. It resembles a human being and behaves like a child. The shadow jumps when he jumps runs when he runs. The shadow follows him wherever he goes. The shadow is always behind him, never coming in front. The poet wonders why the size of the shadow does not grow. Sometimes it becomes as large as Indian bouncing ball and shorter than nobody likes him. One day, the poet got up before the sunrise. He saw moisture on yellow flowers but he could not find his shadow with him. He thought that the shadow was still sleeping and he was lazy but he wondered if the shadow had gone to bed before him.
I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me.
in and out with me.
And what can be the use of him is
more than I 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.
In the above stanza, the poet says that he has a little shadow that keeps following him wherever he goes. At the same time, the poet also wonders what is the use of shadow. The shadow’s appearance is just like the poet from toe to head. The poet also observes that his shadow goes to bed before him. He is fascinated by the shadow and very curious to know more about him.
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.
In this stanza, the poet is curious to observe how the shadow keeps changing his shape. The poet finds it funny. He compares his shadow with other children and says that he does not behave like them. Other children are generally slow in everything but the shadow is way faster than them in changing forms. The poet observes that sometimes, the shadow becomes taller than him like a huge rubber ball and sometimes he becomes very small.
One morning, very clearly, before the
sun I was up,
I rose and found the shining dew
on every buttercup;
But my lazy little shadow, like an
had stayed at home behind me and
was Fast asleep in bed.
In the last stanza, the poet says that one day he woke up early morning before the sunrise. He went out to see the flowers and he found morning dew on each petal but he did not find his shadow behind. The poet calls his shadow lazy because he thought that he was still sleeping. The fact is, shadows are formed when sunlight falls on your body. Since the sun did not rise still when the poet woke up, he did not find the shadow. The poet was confused and wondered why his shadow did not wake up when he went to bed at night before the poet. The poet thinks that the shadow plays tricks with him all the time.
The poem tells the readers that children are so naïve and innocent. Their imaginations and observations are wide and full of curiosity.
Q1. What is a Shadow and How is it Formed?
Ans. A shadow is a reflection of oneself and it is formed when sunlight falls on one’s body.
Q2. Why Does Shadow Go to Bed Before the Poet?
Ans. The shadow does not go to bed before the poet. Actually, after sunset, the poet is unable to see his shadow so he thinks that the shadows go to the bed before him. This states the innocent imagination of a child’s mind.
Q3. Why Do You Think the Poet Says that the Shadow Keeps Changing His Forms So Fast? What is the Actual Reason Behind this?
Ans. The poet observes that the shadow keeps changing his forms – sometimes taller than him and sometimes shorter than him. This happens because the sun is far away from us in the morning so our shadows look taller than us. In the afternoon, the sun comes nearer to us so the shadow looks smaller than us.
Q4. Why Did the Poet Call the Shadow Lazy?
Ans. One day the poet woke up before the sunrise and did not find the shadow following him. He wondered why it happened because he went to bed before him. So the poet called him lazy for sleeping so long. Just because the sun still did not rise when the poet woke up, it was dark everywhere and so he could not find his shadow.