I Have a Little Shadow

by Steve Klaper, Caitlin M.G. Klaper

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The Lamplighter Robert Louis Stevenson My tea is nearly ready and the sun has left the sky. It’s time to take the window to see Leerie going by; For every night at teatime and before you take your seat, With lantern and with ladder he comes posting up the street Now Tom would be a driver and Maria go to sea, And my papa’s a banker and as rich as he can be; But I, when I am stronger and can choose what I’m to do, O Leerie, I’ll go round at night and light the lamps with you For we are very lucky, with a lamp before the door, And Leerie stops to light it as he lights so many more; And oh! before you hurry by with ladder and with light; O Leerie, see a little child and nod to him tonight
Block City By Robert Louis Stevenson What are you able to build with your blocks? Castles and palaces, temples and docks. Rain may keep raining, and others go roam, But I can be happy and building at home. Let the sofa be mountains, the carpet be sea, There I’ll establish a city for me: A kirk and a mill and a palace beside, And a harbour as well where my vessels may ride. Great is the palace with pillar and wall, A sort of a tower on the top of it all, And steps coming down in an orderly way To where my toy vessels lie safe in the bay. This one is sailing and that one is moored: Hark to the song of the sailors on board And see, on the steps of my palace, the kings Coming and going with presents and things! Now I have done with it, down let it go All in a moment the town is laid low. Block upon block lying scattered and free, What is there left of my town by the sea? Yet as I saw it, I see it again, The kirk and the palace, the ships and the men, And as long as I live and where’er I may be, I’ll always remember my town by the sea.
Keepsake Mill by Robert Louis Stevenson Over the borders, a sin without pardon, Breaking the branches and crawling below, Out through the breach in the wall of the garden, Down by the banks of the river, we go. Here is the mill with the humming of thunder, Here is the weir with the wonder of foam, Here is the sluice with the race running under— Marvellous places, though handy to home! Sounds of the village grow stiller and stiller, Stiller the note of the birds on the hill; Dusty and dim are the eyes of the miller, Deaf are his ears with the moil of the mill. Years may go by, and the wheel in the river Wheel as it wheels for us, children, to-day, Wheel and keep roaring and foaming for ever, Long after all of the boys are away. Home from the Indies and home from the ocean, Heroes and soldiers we all shall come home; Still we shall find the old mill wheel in motion, Turning and churning that river to foam. You with the bean that I gave when we quarreled, I with your marble of Saturday last, Honoured and old and all gaily appareled, Here we shall meet and remember the past.
The Land of Counterpane by Robert Louis Stevenson When I was sick and lay a-bed, I had two pillows at my head, And all my toys beside me lay To keep me happy all the day. And sometimes for an hour or so, I watched my leaden soldiers go, With different uniforms and drills, Among the bed-clothes, through the hills; And sometimes sent my ships in fleets All up and down among the sheets; Or brought my trees and houses out, And planted cities all about. I was the giant great and still That sits upon the pillow-hill, And sees before him, dale and plain, The pleasant land of counterpane.
Bed in Summer by Robert Louis Stevenson In winter I get up at night And dress by yellow candle-light In summer, quite the other way, I have to go to bed by day. I have to go to bed and see The birds still hopping on the tree, Or hear the grown-up people’s feet Still going past me in the street. And does it not seem hard to you, When all the sky is clear and blue, And I should like so much to play, To have to go to bed by day?
The Dumb Soldier by Robert Louis Stevenson When the grass was closely mown, Walking on the lawn alone, In the turf a hole I found, And hid a soldier underground. Spring and daisies came apace; Grasses hide my hiding place; Grasses run like a green sea O’er the lawn up to my knee. Under grass alone he lies, Looking up with leaden eyes, Scarlet coat and pointed gun, To the stars and to the sun. When the grass is ripe like grain, When the scythe is stoned again, When the lawn is shaven clear, Then my hole shall reappear. I shall find him, never fear, I shall find my grenadier; But for all that’s gone and come, I shall find my soldier dumb. He has lived, a little thing, In the grassy woods of spring; Done, if he could tell me true, just as I should like to do. He has seen the starry hours And the springing of the flowers; And the fairy things that pass In the forests of the grass. In the silence he has heard Talking bee and ladybird, And the butterfly has flown O’er him as he lay alone. Not a word will he disclose, Not a word of all he knows. I must lay him on the shelf, And make up the tale myself.
The Swing by Robert Louis Stevenson How do you like to go up in a swing, Up in the air so blue? Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing Ever a child can do! Up in the air and over the wall, Till I can see so wide, Rivers and trees and cattle and all Over the countryside­ Till I look down on the garden green, Down on the roof so brown­ Up in the air I go flying again, Up in the air and down.
Picture-Books in Winter by Robert Louis Stevenson Summer fading, winter comes— Frosty mornings, tingling thumbs Window robins, winter rooks, And the picture story-books. Water now is turned to stone Nurse and I can walk upon; Still we find the flowing brooks In the picture story-books. All the pretty things put by, Wait upon the children’s eye, Sheep and shepherds, trees and crooks, In the picture story-books. We may see how all things are, Seas and cities, near and far, And the flying fairies’ looks, In the picture story-books. How am I to sing your praise, Happy chimney-corner days, Sitting safe in nursery nooks, Reading picture story-books?
Armies In The Fire by Robert Louis Stevenson The lamps now glitter down the street; Faintly sound the falling feet; And the blue even slowly falls About the garden trees and walls. Now in the falling of the gloom The red fire paints the empty room: And warmly on the roof it looks, And flickers on the backs of books. Armies march by tower and spire Of cities blazing, in the fire; Till as I gaze with staring eyes, The armies fade, the lustre dies. Then once again the glow returns; Again the phantom city burns; And down the red‑hot valley, lo! The phantom armies marching go! Blinking embers, tell me true Where are those armies marching to, And what the burning city is That crumbles in your furnaces.
The Cow by Robert Louis Stevenson The friendly cow all red and white, I love with all my heart: She gives me cream with all her might, To eat with apple‑tart. She wanders lowing here and there, And yet she cannot stray, All in the pleasant open air, The pleasant light of day. And blown by all the winds that pass And wet with all the showers, She walks among the meadow grass And eats the meadow flowers.
Windy Nights by Robert Louis Stevenson Whenever the moon and stars are set, Whenever the wind is high, All night long in the dark and wet, A man goes riding by, Late in the night when the fires are out, Why does he gallop and gallop about? Whenever the trees are crying aloud, And ships are tossed at sea, By, on the highway, low and loud, By at the gallop goes he. By at the gallop he goes, and then By he comes back at the gallop again.
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 than an india‑rubber ball, And sometimes he’s 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.
Looking‑Glass River by Robert Louis Stevenson Smooth it glides upon its travel, Here a wimple, there a gleam O the clean gravel O the smooth stream; Sailing blossoms, silver fishes, Paven pools as clear as air­ How a child wishes To live down there. We can see our coloured faces Floating on the shaken pool Down in cool places, Dim and very cool; Till a wind or water wrinkle, Dipping marten, plumping trout, Spreads in a twinkle And blots all out. See the rings pursue each other; All below grows black as night, Just as if mother Had blown out the light; Patience, children, just a minute­ See the spreading circles die; The stream and all in it Will clear by‑and‑by.
Singing by Robert Louis Stevenson Of speckled eggs the birdie sings And nests among the trees; The sailor sings of ropes and things In ships upon the seas The children sing in far Japan, The children sing in Spain; The organ with the organ man Is singing in the rain Rain by Robert Louis Stevenson The rain is raining all around, It falls on field and tree, It rains on the umbrellas here, And on the ships at sea
A Good Boy by Robert Louis Stevenson I woke before the morning, I was happy all the day, I never said an ugly word, but smiled and stuck to play. And now at last the sun is going down behind the wood, And I am very happy, for I know that I’ve been good. My bed is waiting cool and fresh, with linen smooth and fair, And I must off to sleepsin-by, and not forget my prayer. I know that, till to-morrow I shall see the sun arise, No ugly dream shall fright my mind, no ugly sight my eyes. But slumber hold me tightly till I waken in the dawn, And hear the thrushes singing in the lilacs round the lawn.


A child’s garden of songs, inspired by
the poems of Robert Louis Stevenson

Once upon a time, parents read their children bedtime stories, sang lullabyes and read them nursery rhymes. Some still do. In the late 1950’s, my mom, who couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket, sang to me anyway, and I thought it sounded beautiful. Every night, she sat on the edge of my bed at bedtime with a book. She read me stories of Raggedy Ann and Babar the Elephant and Curious George and Timothy Turtle, and the poems of Robert Louis Stevenson.

In 1988, my daughter Caitlin was 3 years old. Every night, her mom sat on the edge of her bed at bedtime with a book. She read Caitlin stories of Winnie the Pooh and Bartholomew Cubbins and Goodnight Moon and Chinese folktales and the poems of Robert Louis Stevenson.

Not being one to miss a story, I sat in the corner, playing soft background music on my guitar, and slowly but surely began composing tunes for the Stevenson poems. They became Caitlin’s bedtime lullabyes, and she grew up thinking that A Child’s Garden of Verses was a collection of Robert Louis Stevenson songs when, in fact, there was no real collection of Robert Louis Stevenson songs — and she was the only one who had ever heard the single-verse ditties.

Then 16 years went by, and Caitlin became a singer, and we now had a reason to turn those old lullabye ditties into real songs. It is a privilege for us to be able to introduce these poems to a new generation of parents and their kids, but this is just a taste. Get a copy of the complete collection of “A Child’s Garden of Verses,” by Robert Louis Stevenson. Read them aloud, to yourself and to your kids. The music of Stevenson’s poetry and the gentle poignancy of his child’s perspective touches something timeless within us all, even as it transports us back to another time, when heroes came “home from the Indies and home from the ocean,” and mother comes in to “blow out the light.”

Stevenson wrote these poems in the late 19th century, at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution — before radio, before electric lights, before telephones, before automobiles — when an active imagination was the most versatile toy a child could own. Now, in a 21st century filled with electronic games and carefully scripted play groups, programs and events that occupy every hour of a child’s day, it’s worthwhile to take a moment now and again and pretend. Pretend that what if just might be. Just make believe…

My thanks to Randy Leipnik, at Semper Records, who hears things beyond the range of mortal ears, and to Dan, Paul and Keith for making the music shine. Thanks to Anne Costello for color, composition and timeless cool. And thanks to Robert, in a land and time far far away.

Caitlin and I dedicate this CD, with love, to our moms, who never got tired of reading to us.

Steve Klaper, November 2004


released November 1, 2004

Steve Klaper: Guitars, Harmonica, Vocals
Caitlin M.G. Klaper: Vocals
Randy Leipnik: Keyboards
Dan Kolton: Bass, Cello
Paul Vornhagen: Flutes, Sax
Keith Beber: Percussion

Music & Arrangements © 1988, 2005 by Steve Klaper / Ashira Music (BMI)
Lyrics from “A Child’s Garden of Verses” by Robert Louis Stevenson
Produced by Randy Leipnik, Semper Records, Oak Park, MI
Art by Anne Costello


all rights reserved



Jewish Troubadour Oak Park, Michigan

Hazzan Steve Klaper is a Jewish troubadour -- a spiritual storyteller, minstrel and teacher. An ordained Cantor, Maggid and teacher of Torah, Steve draws upon his Orthodox Jewish roots and over 40 years experience as a professional musician, infusing traditional Jewish teachings with melodies, sacred tales and wisdom from a variety of traditions -- ancient teachings that feel somehow familiar. ... more

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