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Uploaded by : Marc Lafia | 12/11/08

by: Sylvia Plath

You do not do, you do not do
Any more, black shoe
In which I have lived like a foot
For thirty years, poor and white,
Barely daring to breathe or Achoo.

Daddy, I have had to kill you.
You died before I had time--
Marble-heavy, a bag full of God,
Ghastly statue with one gray toe
Big as a Frisco seal

And a head in the freakish Atlantic
Where it pours bean green over blue
In the waters off beautiful Nauset.
I used to pray to recover you.
Ach, du.

In the German tongue, in the Polish town
Scraped flat by the roller
Of wars, wars, wars.
But the name of the town is common.
My Polack friend

Says there are a dozen or two.
So I never could tell where you
Put your foot, your root,
I never could talk to you.
The tongue stuck in my jaw.

It stuck in a barb wire snare.
Ich, ich, ich, ich,
I could hardly speak.
I thought every German was you.
And the language obscene

An engine, an engine
Chuffing me off like a Jew.
A Jew to Dachau, Auschwitz, Belsen.
I began to talk like a Jew.
I think I may well be a Jew.

The snows of the Tyrol, the clear beer of Vienna
Are not very pure or true.
With my gipsy ancestress and my weird luck
And my Taroc pack and my Taroc pack
I may be a bit of a Jew.

I have always been scared of you,
With your Luftwaffe, your gobbledygoo.
And your neat mustache
And your Aryan eye, bright blue.
Panzer-man, panzer-man, O You--

Not God but a swastika
So black no sky could squeak through.
Every woman adores a Fascist,
The boot in the face, the brute
Brute heart of a brute like you.

You stand at the blackboard, daddy,
In the picture I have of you,
A cleft in your chin instead of your foot
But no less a devil for that, no not
Any less the black man who

Bit my pretty red heart in two.
I was ten when they buried you.
At twenty I tried to die
And get back, back, back to you.
I thought even the bones would do.

But they pulled me out of the sack,
And they stuck me together with glue.
And then I knew what to do.
I made a model of you,
A man in black with a Meinkampf look

And a love of the rack and the screw.
And I said I do, I do.
So daddy, I'm finally through.
The black telephone's off at the root,
The voices just can't worm through.

If I've killed one man, I've killed two--
The vampire who said he was you
And drank my blood for a year,
Seven years, if you want to know.
Daddy, you can lie back now.

There's a stake in your fat black heart
And the villagers never liked you.
They are dancing and stamping on you.
They always knew it was you.
Daddy, daddy, you bastard, I'm through.

From "Ariel", 1966
List all poems from "Ariel"

  • Title:
    Daddy, Slyvia Plath
  • Artist:
  • Year:
  • Description:
    The poem “Daddy” serves as a prime example of Plath’s inclination towards heavy subject matter, and is good representation of confessional poetry in general. As the title suggests, “Daddy” can be seen as a response to Plath’s relationship and experiences with her father. Otto Plath died when she was eight years old, and in “Daddy” it appears as though Plath has developed somewhat of an Electra complex. However just as in many of her other poems in which her father is presented as the key figure, Plath reveals that she has somewhat mixed emotions towards his death. One element of the poem that’s controversial but definitely intriguing is Plath’s use of Holocaust imagery. She portrays her father as a Nazi repeatedly throughout the poem, referencing his “German tongue,” “neat mustache,” and his “Aryan eye”. Herself she depicts as a Jew, even going as far as describing “an engine” that takes her off “to Dachau, Auschwitz, [or] Belsen”. Such imagery is employed in order for Plath to establish a sort of “oppressor-oppressed” relationship between her and her father. excerpt from Letting It All Out: Sylvia Plath And Confessional Poetry Written by Paige Reinsel
  • Disciplines and Movements:
    Poetry and Confessional Poetry
  • Themes and Tags:
    feminine, intimate, rebel, death, depressive, rhythmic, visceral, agitated, severe, dark, angry, implosive, self-reflection and beautiful

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