Courses for Kids
Free study material
Offline Centres

Poem: My Shadow by Robert Louis Stevenson

share icon
share icon

My Shadow Poem

Robert Louis Stevenson wrote the poem My Shadow. It first appeared in A Child's Garden of Verses in 1885 and is one of his most well-known poems for kids. It is written in iambic heptameter and can be termed a fourteener because it is written in iambs with seven syllables per line. Robert Louis Stevenson was a well-known Scottish author and poet. He is the author of numerous fiction and travel books. 'Treasure Island,' 'Kidnapped,' and 'Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde' are just a few of his renowned works.

The article is focused on presenting the My Shadow poem and its summary and the theme. 

Theme of My Shadow 

My Shadow is precise poetry that emphasises the pleasure of sounds over a sophisticated syntactic style. The poem is addressed to two groups of people, first, and most clearly, children and the second group includes everyone who wants to relive the joy and wonder of childhood. Curiosity and wonder are the major themes of this composition. The speaker in Stevenson's poem spends the entire poem thinking about his own shadow. He doesn't know what it is, but he has to arrive at his own conclusions because he doesn't have accessibility to or comprehension of science. The speaker refers to his shadow as a "he," as if it were another boy who follows him around. The text's main objective is to demonstrate how a toddler is fascinated and delighted with his own shadow. The child is perplexed as to how the shadows change for everyone. He is taken aback by his own shadow, and he begins to notice everything about it. The youngster's shadow follows him around and does everything the child does. This increases the child's curiosity.

Boy wondering about the shadow

Boy wondering about the shadow

My Shadow Poem by Robert Louis Stevenson

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.

Summary of the Poem: My Shadow 

The speaker of the poem begins by telling how another child follows him around everywhere. When he's playing, it sticks so close to him that it's embarrassing for both of them. He also possesses the unusual capacity to shrink and grow rapidly, unlike a typical boy. The child's innocence and sincere curiosity into the nature of his world are adorable, transporting the adult reader back to a time when science has made everything so much clearer.

According to Robert Louis Stevenson, everyone has a shadow of himself. It has the appearance of a human and acts like a youngster. The shadow leaps when he leaps and sprints when he sprints. Wherever he goes, the shadow follows him. He always has the shadow behind him, never in front of him. The poet is perplexed as to why the shadow does not grow in size. It can go as big as a bouncing ball and as short as nobody likes him. The poet once awoke before the sun rose. He noticed dampness on yellow blossoms, but his shadow was nowhere to be found. He assumed the shadow was still asleep and that he was just being lazy, but he wondered if the shadow had awoken.

About the Poet

Robert Louis Stevenson was a Scottish novelist, essayist, poet, and travel writer who lived from 1850 to 1894. Treasure Island, Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Kidnapped, and A Child's Garden of Verses are among his best-known works. Stevenson established norms for complex characterisation with Silver, Jekyll, and others, which were eventually replicated by contemporary writers. One of Stevenson's most important literary achievements was his approach of portraying ambiguous, mysterious characters. Stevenson died of a brain haemorrhage on December 3, 1894, at the age of 44. Weir of Hermiston, which promised to be his single finest masterpiece, remained unfinished due to his early demise.

To conclude the article, it can be said that Robert Louis Stevenson is one of the prominent figures of literature, his poem named My Shadow is one of his acclaimed poems. The poem deals with the curiosity and innocence of a child. 

Want to read offline? download full PDF here
Download full PDF
Is this page helpful?
Courses for kids
English Superstar
Grade LKG - 2
Maths Classes
Grade 1 - 2
Spoken English
Grade 3 - 5

FAQs on Poem: My Shadow by Robert Louis Stevenson

1. What is the literary style of the poem named My Shadow?

Robert Louis Stevenson's poem 'My Shadow' is classified into four stanzas and four lines each. Stevenson has opted to use a simple rhyming pattern of aabb, ccdd and so on throughout the poem, alternating end sounds as he sees fit from stanza to stanza. It is composed in iambic heptameter and is referred to as a fourteener because each line has seven syllables. This rhyme system was chosen by Stevenson to complement the theme and intended readership of 'My Shadow.'

2. Why does the poet call the shadow lazy?

The boy in the poem calls the shadow lazy as he wakes up earthly one day and fails to locate the shadow. He first realises that the shadow must have been sleeping then he comes to the conclusion that the shadow is lazy, he also wonders when did the shadow woke up.

3. Who calls the shadow coward?

The speaker in verse 3 of Robert Louis Stevenson's poem "My Shadow" believes that his shadow is a coward who always stays to his body. Because the shadow does not split from him. According to the speaker, the shadow is afraid of everyone and clings to him more than he ever did to his nurse or babysitter. He claims that the shadow must learn how to play like any other kid.