The Shadow Knows What Day This Is

When our children were small, I used to read them poetry from a collection by Robert Louis Stevenson.  This one was a particular favorite:


All around the house is the jet-black night;
It stares through the window-pane;
It crawls in the corners, hiding from the light,
And it moves with the moving flame.

Now my little heart goes a beating like a drum,
With the breath of the Bogies in my hair;
And all around the candle and the crooked shadows come,
And go marching along up the stair.

The shadow of the balusters, the shadow of the lamp,
The shadow of the child that goes to bed–
All the wicked shadows coming tramp, tramp, tramp,
With the black night overhead.

In comparison, another Stevenson poem I’d read to them occasionally, sounds absolutely wimpy.

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 errant sleepy-head,
Had stayed at home behind me and was fast asleep in bed.
When daughter Boo sent this photo of another of her Halloween decorations, I had to laugh.  You don’t I overdid the Shadow March readings, do you?
(Boo wants me to point out that she often gets her ideas from magazines and blogs.)
Today is her birthday.  I hope my lovely, clever, oldest daughter has an absolutely lovely day without a shadow in sight!
Keep your face always toward the sunshine – and shadows will fall behind you. 
Walt Whitman 

13 thoughts on “The Shadow Knows What Day This Is

  1. Your daughter is so talented. A super eye for design. I am sure some of her talents come from her mother. Do you know what she made the shadow on the stairs with?

  2. A shadow from the past–my grandmother use to recite the Shadow March poem to me…I loved it, of-course…Happy Birth Day to you! Obviously you gave birth to a very clever daughter.

    1. She’s very organized, too. You know how doctors say that babies take vitamins from your body when you’re pregnant? Yeah, well. . . she also grabbed any organization skills I might ever have had before she exited the birth canal.

  3. I think the Shadow March poem is less scary than the “Now I lay me down to sleep…” prayer I used to hear when I was little, especially the part about “…if I should die before I wake..” No wonder I needed a night light!

    Love the clever staircase silhouette!

    1. Night light bright enough to discourage a soul stealer?

      I’m the one who always slept with her arms under the covers, less some stray guardian angel feather brush against me.

      I’m with you. That one needs to be rethought.

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