Monday, May 11, 2020

Geometry of a Shadow

     This morning while exercising I listened to an old CD that had been stored with materials I used when involved with the The Children's Museum (in Bloomsburg, PA).  The recording included selections from A Child's Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) and as I listened to "My Shadow" I connected it with my blog -- a poem of geometry and mappings.  Here it is; enjoy!

     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.   

Access to work by Stevenson, including all of the poems (many of which I enjoyed as a child) in A Child's Garden of Verses is available here at,  and here is a link illustrating the geometry of drawing shadows (a posting by Julianna Kunstler).

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