My Shadow

By Robert Louis Stevenson 1850–1894
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.

Source: The Golden Book of Poetry (1947)

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Poet Robert Louis Stevenson 1850–1894

POET’S REGION Scotland

SCHOOL / PERIOD Victorian

Subjects Friends & Enemies, Relationships

 Robert Louis Stevenson

Biography

Robert Louis Stevenson is best known as the author of the children’s classic Treasure Island, and the adult horror story, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Both of these novels have curious origins. A map of an imaginary island gave Stevenson the idea for the first story, and a nightmare supplied the premise of the second. In addition to memorable origins, these tales also share Stevenson’s key theme: the . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Friends & Enemies, Relationships

POET’S REGION Scotland

SCHOOL / PERIOD Victorian

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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