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  • Writer's pictureBetty Girardeau

Just A Shadow Of Myself

When I was a small child I had a book of poetry for children that include this rhyme by Robert Louis Stevenson titled "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.

I had most of it memorized at some point, but these days only the first two lines are the ones that I remember and think about every time I see my shadow. Last evening I was checking out night mode and LINAR on my new iPhone and just happened to notice this shadow of myself as I was heading back into the kitchen to turn on the lights in that room. Those two lines immediately popped into my head. I remember that after learning this poem as a child, I would often entertain myself when I was outside by playing with my shadow, trying to make it larger, smaller, or disappear. It was a silly little game, but you would be surprised how much time you can spend playing it. Those of you with grandchildren of a certain age might like to play it with them and to introduce them to this poem, too. Or, sometimes when you have become bored by having to spend too much time with yourself because of Covid, you can play this game just by yourself. Some childish games should never be outgrown.

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