August 20, 2009

Theme Thursday - Shadow


Jessie Wilcox-Smith

Although this poem is not my own, it has special meaning to me. As a child I had a book called Gateway to Storyland (edited by Watty Piper). It contained stories like The Gingerbread Boy, Peter Rabbit and the Three Little Kittens. My Shadow was also included. I learned to read from that book. I remember the day clearly when it all came together for me.

Here's Robert Louis Stevenson's My Shadow originally from The Child's Garden of Verses.

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 goes 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 behind 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.

--Robert Louis Stevenson

13 comments:

Poetikat said...

That's a charming post, CP. I recently picked up a vintage copy of "A Child's Garden of Verses". My "Nanny" used to read it to me when I was a tot.
Funny. Reading the poem, I was struck by the India-rubber ball. Remember those balls that were popular in the early 70s? What did we call them again? Superballs?

Kat

einbildungskraft said...

My girl Lily is all grown up now (will be a senior in high school!) but I still look at the books I bought for her as a child with delight, and can not bear to part with them. Of course I come up with rationalities, like, she can use them for her children! and thus they stay safe, in my bookshevles, being a dust nuisance but who cares....
greetings, you have been so prolific! Beth

Brian Miller said...

beautiful poem to match the picture. lighthearted and fun...thanks for the smiles.

Diane said...

Yes, those early poems were so powerful,, read by loved ones ust before falling asleep and filling our heads with dreams. Here is one from my childhood story book....

The King's Breakfast

The King asked
The Queen, and
The Queen asked
The Dairymaid:
"Could we have some butter for
The Royal slice of bread?"
The Queen asked the Dairymaid,
The Dairymaid
Said, "Certainly,
I'll go and tell the cow
Now
Before she goes to bed."

The Dairymaid
She curtsied,
And went and told the Alderney:
"Don't forget the butter for
The Royal slice of bread."

The Alderney said sleepily:
"You'd better tell
His Majesty
That many people nowadays
Like marmalade
Instead."

The Dairymaid
Said "Fancy!"
And went to
Her Majesty.
She curtsied to the Queen, and
She turned a little red:
"Excuse me,
Your Majesty,
For taking of
The liberty,
But marmalade is tasty, if
It's very
Thickly
Spread."

The Queen said
"Oh!"
And went to his Majesty:
"Talking of the butter for
The royal slice of bread,
Many people
Think that
Marmalade
Is nicer.
Would you like to try a little
Marmalade
Instead?"

The King said,
"Bother!"
And then he said,
"Oh, deary me!"
The King sobbed, "Oh, deary me!"
And went back to bed.
"Nobody,"
He whimpered,
"Could call me
A fussy man;
I only want
A little bit
Of butter for
My bread!"

The Queen said,
"There, there!"
And went to
The Dairymaid.
The Dairymaid
Said, "There, there!"
And went to the shed.
The cow said,
"There, there!
I didn't really
Mean it;
Here's milk for his porringer
And butter for his bread."

The queen took the butter
And brought it to
His Majesty.
The King said
"Butter, eh?"
And bounced out of bed.
"Nobody," he said,
As he kissed her
Tenderly,
"Nobody," he said,
As he slid down
The banisters,
"Nobody,
My darling,
Could call me
A fussy man -
BUT
I do like a little bit of butter to my bread!"

-- A. A. Milne

The Clever Pup said...

I love that one Diane, Ernest Shepard illustrated it too. We have it in our family somewhere.

willow said...

One of the books that first introduced me to poetry was "Poems to Read and to Learn", and it contained this Stevenson poem, as well. In fact, it is what inspired my poem for today's post.

Interesting how those early childhood books has such a big impact.

Betsy said...

Love that first illustration...just beautiful! :)

secret, fragile skies said...

Lovely illustration and post... especially because you remember it so vividly.

Tom said...

That's a good one! Perfect post for this Thursday.

Candie Bracci said...

This is a nice poem Hazel and sweet memories.When I was a kid I'd love the stories of Andersen really much,I was taking the book with me evrywhere.
Have a nice day :)

subtorp77 said...

Thank you so much for bringing this back. I haven't read this in years! A grand entry for the theme :)

Jill said...

What a beautiful shadow picture...it is charming...AND I would love to have a copy of The Gateway To Storyland...it is a TREASURE!

lettuce said...

what a lovely and very nostalgic post.

the aamilne poem I STILL know by heart, after all these years, is the Lines and the Squares

Whenever i walk in a london street I'm every so careful to watch my feet....

mustn't go on, must go and eat breakfast!
with marmalade!