Shadow of a Doubt

This week we read “The Wings of Daylight” by W. S. Merwin. It’s a seemingly straightforward poem word-wise, which a number of students pointed out; but while it uses simple language, its ideas are actually quite complicated. Initial questions focused on individual lines, but I suggested that the poem was best taken as a whole, so we looked at its effect cumulatively. Overall, it seems to examine the dichotomy between light (or “brightness”) and darkness, the latter expressed through the repetition of shadow imagery—“our shadows,” “other shadows,” “the world’s shadows.” Early in the poem Merwin writes, “not to touch or hold in our shadows,” so I asked if we could touch or feel shadows? Are they always a part of us? Do they exist at night? Are they like anything else—memories, ideas, habits, thoughts? What exactly are shadows? We got quite philosophical in our discussions!

Groundhog Day inspired my choice of this poem, so for writing, the students were asked to make their own poems about shadows, both literal and figurative.

Mrs. Carlson, 4th Grade

Shadows of a MEMORY
Livvy A.

Shadows of a MEMORY!
Shadows of a family
Shadows of myself
Shadows of a friend
Shadows of a school
Shadows of a tree
Shadows of a pet
Shadows of work
Shadows of my life
Shadows of a MEMORY!

The Shadow of Shadows
Carina B.

A hole
A head
A foot
No shadow yet
Another foot
A chest
A foot
No shadow
Another foot
A tail
Completely out
No shadow!
Winter is over
Spring is here
Groundhog Day is over
and spring is here

Groundhog Charlie runs
into a hole
He’s seen his shadow!
It’s still winter false
Try again next year
and hope for spring here
no wait
he didn’t see his
he saw mine!

The Shadow
Karsten E.

On Friday the 13th,
I went outside
to get some fresh air
when I saw
a black figure on the ground
following me.

It chased me to the supermarket,
to the sporting goods store, too,
it chased me to the sports complex
and through the city,
it chased me to a corner,
when I realized, it was my shadow.

The Shadow Job
Lillie M.

Shadows smile
Shadows laugh
Shadows cry

They have a job
it’s what they do
they copy you

Shadows push
Shadows be crazy
Shadows run

That is what they do
they laugh, cry, smile
and they push, run and
be crazy and stuff

That is what we do
to make you think that
we are you but during
the night we do something else
we can’t tell you that
now that’s a secret

Now got to fly
that is our job

Do They Ever Go?
Riley S.

I think
when the sun
has gone,
the shadows
Then in
the morning
you get a
new one.
They change
a lot.
And it hurts.
All in their
tiny 24
but they

The Shadows
Elijah W.

The shadows
shadows are everywhere
shadows are life
shadows are everything

Mrs. Rupp, 4th Grade

Zakaria B.

A shadow
cast over me all

the time it’s bug-
ging me

unfortunately we are stuck to-

gether you and



and you

Rebecca B.

My long, thin,
green, purple,
red, brown
shadow frowns at me.
Darkness, that’s all
of it
It’s so small
but big.
It depends
Kaylie’s shadow is huge
Bigger than mine
I will not lie
But then my shadow disappears
and leaves nothing.
At all.
Just an oak.
A small, whistling tree.
In the wind
No shadow
But the clouds roll away,
and bring sunshine
And shadows.
Small, thin, weak, dumb
Shadows one and all
But mine
is special.

Carolina B.

Shadows, Shadows, are very strange things
Do they have legs or do they have wings
I guess it depends on who the shadow is.

Shadows, Shadows, what are they made of?
Are they made of light or even little white doves?
What are shadows and what do they love?

Shadows, Shadows, what are they?
Is it an animal or a child in play?
Could they ruin or make someone’s day?

Adrija D.

I think about
them when I sleep.
I think about
They haunt me in my
dreams, and wake me full
of surprises.

Evan H.

Brightness appears
showing us everything
just like shadows
we touch them
and we see them
It’s kind of scary
how it works though
shadows are weirdos.

Aidan L.

There is someone following
me. It is dark and right on
my footsteps, sometimes it is in
front of me or behind me or
next to me. I try to run
but it is glued to me.

That’s when I discovered shade.

Andy W.

My shadow is big…
I’m not.
My shadow can run a lot.
I can’t.
My shadow always follows me.
He comes to visit on sunny days,
and we play.
He does what I do.
I think he’s a mimic.
Other people have playdates with
shadows too. Even objects.
My teddy bear has a shadow.
And so does my pencil.

Ethan W.

The world always has some darkness.
Life always has darkness.
Sometimes, though, there is light in
the world and in our lives and
everybody else’s lives.

Mrs. Travis, 4th Grade

Hannah B.

I see my shadows in the
trees I see my shadows on
my knees I see my shadow
everywhere I go!!

Like a boss!

Roman C.

I saw a groundhog
I saw its shadow

Then it went down
into the ground

and fell asleep.

Dominic C.

You can see shadows
You can’t touch shadows
Shadows follow you
Shadows are like a ghost
Shadows are like a clone
of yourself

The Groundhog
Dalton F.

The little guy saw
his shadow and then
fell back into his hole.

My Shadow
Lilly W.

Shadows are something that is behind me forever me,
but not me someone else but is it really me?

It’s me for really my demon that will haunt me
for how long? My demon that we were friends,
but now none. But my mirror is me too! But I
trust no one.

Wilson Z.

Their shadows were in the
dark it was scary
that you were staring
back at you try touching it
but it’s just air.

Mr. O’Brien, 4th Grade

Mylea A.

My shadow is always

Johnna B.

Shadows are the thing
that keeps you inside your shell.

Have you ever thought about
how your shadow

My Shadow
Ryan L.

Oh my
shadow so
dark, shifty,
and sneaky
me very
nice shadow
happy follows
me everywhere
I go.

The Shadow That’s Me
Mark L.

My shadow is me
the weird nice me
the person who I
want to be and
that might
be me because
it is me!

Sam M.

I have a shadow
I don’t like shadows
They creep me out
So I don’t like shadows

Jackson O.

Think of a reflection
as a Memory or a
dream but

A shadow as
a dark
Nightmare or


Aramis R.

what lives…
what makes you…
your shadow is a mere obstacle…

Bruce R.

I come
out when the
sun shines on you.
I jump out
and grow
and small,
fat and skinny.
After the day is
done I sleep
in the body

of Brucey



“Writing poetry makes me feel like I can see myself, like I can see my reflection, but not in a mirror, in the world. I write and I know I can be reflected.”
-Oscar S.

“Writing poetry makes me feel free.”
-Buenda D.

“Writing poetry is like your best friend.”
-Jessica M.