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Poems About Shadows

Table of Contents

  1. Shadows by Amos Russel Wells
  2. Shadow by Amos Russel Wells
  3. My Shadow by Robert Louis Stevenson
  4. My Ghost by S. M. B. Piatt
  5. Garden Shadows by Bliss Carman
  6. Light and Shadow by John B. Tabb
  7. Shadow by Adelaide Crapsey
  8. Trapped by Adelaide Crapsey
  9. The Little Boy and His Shadow by Madison Cawein
  10. Shadows by Thomas Durfee
  11. To My Shadow by Thomas Wentworth Higginson
  12. Shadows by Ellen P. Allerton
  13. Shadows by Caroline W. D. Rich

  1. Shadows

    by Amos Russel Wells

    Gloomy the earth on the shadowless days,
    Sad and monotonous, ghostly with haze,
    Gloomy the sky by the clouds overrun,
    Days without shadow are days without sun.

    Bright is the earth where the dark shadows lie,
    Cast by the beams of a glittering sky.
    Praise for the shadows when earth days are done;
    For the darker the shadows, the brighter the sun.

  2. Shadow

    by Amos Russel Wells

    The shadows lie soft on the grass,
    Floating in sunshine seas.
    From shadow to shadow I pass
    Under the sleeping trees.
    Token of rest and delight,—
    The shadow encircled by light.

    Black are the heavens on high,
    Black is the earth below.
    Red lightnings flash through the sky,
    Dread hurricanes blow,
    Ah, a terrible sight,—
    The shadow apart from the light!

  3. My Shadow

    by Robert Louis Stevenson

    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.

  4. My Ghost

    S. M. B. Piatt

    Yes, Katie, I think you are very sweet,
    Now that the tangles are out of your hair,
    And you sing as well as the birds you meet,
    That are playing, like you, in the blossoms there.
    But now you are coming to kiss me, you say:
    Well, what is it for? Shall I tie your shoe?
    Or loop up your sleeve in a prettier way?
    "Do I know about ghosts?" Indeed I do.

    "Have I seen one?" Yes; last evening, you know,
    We were taking a walk that you had to miss,
    (I think you were naughty, and cried to go,
    But, surely, you'll stay at home after this!)
    And, away in the twilight, lonesomely,
    ("What is the twilight?" It's—getting late!)
    I was thinking of things that were sad to me!—
    There, hush! you know nothing about them, Kate.

    Well, we had to go through the rocky lane,
    Close to that bridge where the water roars,
    By a still, red house, where the dark and rain
    Go in when they will at the open doors.
    And the moon, that had just waked up, looked through
    The broken old windows, and seemed afraid,
    And the wild bats flew, and the thistles grew
    Where once in the roses the children played.

    Just across the road by the cherry trees
    Some fallen white stones had been lying so long,
    Half hid in the grass, and under these
    There were people dead. I could hear the song
    Of a very sleepy dove as I passed
    The graveyard near, and the cricket that cried;
    And I look'd (ah! the Ghost is coming at last!)
    And something was walking at my side.

    It seemed to be wrapped in a great dark shawl
    (For the night was a little cold, you know,);
    It would not speak. It was black and tall;
    And it walked so proudly and very slow.
    Then it mocked me everything I could do:
    Now it caught at the lightning flies like me;
    Now it stopped where the elder blossoms grew;
    Now it tore the thorns from a gray bent tree.

    Still it followed me under the yellow moon,
    Looking back to the graveyard now and then,
    Where the winds were playing the night a tune—
    But, Kate, a Ghost doesn't care for men,
    And your papa could n't have done it harm.
    Ah! dark-eyed darling, what is it you see?
    There, you needn't hide in your dimpled arm—
    It was only my shadow that walk'd with me!

  5. Garden Shadows

    by Bliss Carman

    When the dawn winds whisper
    To the standing corn,
    And the rose of morning
    From the dark is born,
    All my shadowy garden
    Seems to grow aware
    Of a fragrant presence,
    Half expected there.

    In the golden shimmer
    Of the burning noon,
    When the birds are silent,
    And the poppies swoon,
    Once more I behold her
    Smile and turn her face,
    With its infinite regard,
    Its immortal grace.

    When the twilight silvers
    Every nodding flower,
    And the new moon hallows
    The first evening hour,
    Is it not her footfall
    Down the garden walks,
    Where the drowsy blossoms
    Slumber on their stalks?

    In the starry quiet,
    When the soul is free,
    And a vernal message
    Stirs the lilac tree,
    Surely I have felt her
    Pass and brush my cheek,
    With the eloquence of love
    That does not need to speak!

  6. Light and Shadow

    by John B. Tabb

    "I love you, little maid,"
    Said the Sunbeam to the Shade,
    As all day long she shrank away before him;
    But at twilight, ere he died,
    She was weeping at his side;
    And he felt her tresses softly trailing o'er him.

  7. Shadow

    by Adelaide Crapsey

    A-sway,
    On red rose,
    A golden butterfly…
    And on my heart a butterfly
    Night-wing'd.

  8. Trapped

    by Adelaide Crapsey

    Still as
    On windless nights
    The moon-cast shadows are,
    So still will be my heart when I
    Am dead.

  9. The Little Boy and His Shadow

    by Madison Cawein

    There's something now that no one knows,
    That never seems to mind me —
    Where is it that my shadow goes
    That often walks behind me?
    Where does it go when I come home;
    For often I'm without it;
    It's queer and very worrisome,
    I'd like to know about it.

    When I go out on sunny days,
    Why, there it is beside me:
    And there it skips and there it plays,
    And from it I can't hide me.
    I cannot run away from it,
    It runs as fast as Fido;
    And if I stand or if I sit
    It stands and sits as I do.

    But if I run into a square
    Where trees stand or a dwelling,
    Why, then it's gone! I wonder where!
    Who knows? It's hard as spelling.
    And then it never says a word;
    It's surely in a trance, or
    Just deaf and dumb and never heard;
    If not, why don't it answer?

    And in the moonlight, when I walk,
    Why, then it walks before me
    And mimics me, but will not talk,
    But rather seems t' ignore me.
    And I have noticed that at noon
    I walk on it, it's smaller,
    But in the night-time, by the moon,
    It's often ten times taller.

    But at the door, both day and night,
    It never fails to leave me,
    That is, unless there is a light
    By which it may perceive me.
    Why don't it go to bed with me?
    Why don't it lie beside me?
    It seems to lack in courtesy,
    And often can't abide me.

    Why should it come to skip and run
    Without a word or comment,
    And stay with me in moon and sun,
    Then quit me in a moment?
    Why don't it come in-doors and play?
    I'm sure that it is able,
    Why don't it stay with me all day,
    And eat with me at table?

    But that's the way it is, you see,
    When one is least expecting
    It leaves or comes quite suddenly
    From where there's no detecting.
    Sometimes it's short; sometimes it's long;
    Sometimes it's just a glimmer;
    It acts so queer I know it's wrong,
    And puzzling as my primer.

    For, sometimes, when by candlelight
    I go to bed, it quivers
    Upon the stairs, out of the night,
    And scares me into shivers.
    From ghostly corners, humped and gnarled,
    It leaps, or down the ceiling,
    Crabbed, crookéd-kneed and knuckle-snarled,
    Goes gesturing and reeling.

    But where it goes when I'm in bed
    And fast asleep and dreaming
    No one can tell me. — Mother said
    That I beat all for scheming
    And bothering her with questions: that
    She wished I was as quiet
    As is my shadow or — the cat:
    Dear knows! she'd profit by it.

    My father said he'd come to find
    That it is most bewild'rin';
    He had no doubt it changed its mind
    As frequently as children.
    "I can't," he said, "tell where it goes,
    Or stays, when gone, denied you;
    Unless it goes, as I suppose,
    And lives and hides inside you."

  10. Shadows

    by Thomas Durfee

    How much of earth's beauty is due to its shadows!
    The tree and the cliff and the far-floating cloudlet,
    The uniform light intercepting and crossing,
    Give manifold color and change to the landscape.

    .

    How much, too, our life is in debt to its shadows;
    To griefs that refine us and cares that develope,
    And wants that keep friendship and love from decaying;
    With nothing to cross us we perish of ennui.

  11. To My Shadow

    by Thomas Wentworth Higginson

    A mute companion at my side
    Paces and plods, the whole day long,
    Accepts the measure of my stride,
    Yet gives no cheer by word or song.

    More close than any doggish friend,
    Not ranging far and wide, like him,
    He goes where'er my footsteps tend,
    Nor shrinks for fear of life or limb.

    I do not know when first we met,
    But till each day's bright hours are done
    This grave and speechless silhouette
    Keeps me betwixt him and the sun.

    They say he knew me when a child;
    Born with my birth, he dies with me;
    Not once from his long task beguiled,
    Though sin or shame bid others flee.

    What if, when all this world of men
    Shall melt and fade and pass away,
    This deathless sprite should rise again
    And be himself my Judgment Day?

  12. Shadows

    by Ellen P. Allerton

    Gray, cold and gray
    Is the desolate wintry sky.
    As the colorless daylight fades away
    And the starless night draws nigh,
    I sit in my darkened room
    By the fire,—it is burning low,
    While fancy weaves in her pauseless loom,
    And swift and silent, amid the gloom.
    Her shuttle glides to and fro.

    Sad, sombre and sad
    Is the web that she weaves to-night;
    And it wraps my soul as the world is clad
    In the desolate evening light.
    Strange is this nameless sorrow!
    I weep, and I scarce know why
    It is the frown of some dark to-morow
    That looms above me, and I must borrow
    Grief from by and by?

    Why, fancy why
    Hast done so ill thy task?
    Instead of a gloom like the starless sky,
    Oh, give me the thing I ask,
    It is just as easy to rear
    A sunny castle in Spain
    As to conjure up some faith or fear,
    Some shadowy grief that brings a tear
    From the ache of a nameless pain.

  13. Shadows

    by Caroline W. D. Rich

    Upon the river's bank I lie
    Beneath the cloud-flecked, azure sky,
    While sedge, and fern, and waving tree,
    In Nature's looking-glass I see—
    The hay-rack, with its fragrant load
    Passing along the grass-grown road—
    The teamster with his easy swing,
    The mower's scythe, with backward fling,
    The falling grass, the rhythmic tread,
    Mirrored upon the river's bed.
    The swallows flitting to and fro,
    Meet shadow-swallows down below—
    While nearer, with their busy hum,
    The bumble-bees and blue-flies come.

This learned I from the shadow of a tree
That to and fro did sway upon a wall:
Our shadow selves, our influence may fall
Where we can never be.

– A.E. Hamilton