Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Sylvia Plath / Daddy


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 o God,
Ghastly statue with one grey 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.

In 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 gypsy ancestress and my weird luck
And my Taroc pack and my Taroc pack
I may be a bit of a Jew.

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

Not God but 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.



  1. “Daddy” written by Silvia Plath is a poem the author dedicated to her dad, a very influential figure during all her life. The writer seems to express some kind of controversial feelings, like something that feels a daughter towards her father, a daughter that apparently hates him, who feels like her victim, blocked, frustrated by the endeavor to please him, to call his attention, to receive his affection, a cuddle that only perceived when she amazed him intellectually. That may be the first impression of everyone; even though I consider that is just a facade of the author and the poem means more than that.

    In my opinion, the poem is a rude but real confession that made the author to her father in which she felt free to express her deepest feelings. Unlike the majority of people may think, I consider Silvia Plath was a woman who truly loved her father in a non-conventional way, but in a special manner that just she could understand, a love that sooner or later would take her to develop an obsession, a madness to find someone who could replace him, someone who could occupy the hole that the most important man in her life left in her heart.

    In that sense, the poem may also be related to her relationships with men in general, a woman who always tried to perform two roles in her life, the housewife committed to her family, to her children or an independent woman completely dedicated to literature, to her dreams, to a life free of engagements. Upon seeing she had to choose between one of them, she felt depressed because of her continuous anxiety for reaching the perfection in her life, and when she realized it would be impossible, she decided to kill herself in order to be with the one and only man that strangely completed her and made her feel comfortable in this world.


  2. "Daddy"
    "Daddy" is a very emotional poem in which the writer combines different feelings and problematic situations that surround her. First, she expresses a submission and the fact that she is tired of it. The writer keeps showing that she is tired of everything she has had to suffer and also about the things she does not tell in order to obey men.
    She criticizes men domination as a personal issue and at the same time she is complaining about the Nazi imposition. The soldier control and the general view that women should be with a soldier as a couple, she is showing a feminist position with these expressions and rejections. Sylvia’s father was German, so she somehow hates all the Nazi supremacy.
    I think this poem is a clear reflection of her bipolar condition, it is evident she has mixed feelings for her father, a love and hate relationship with his memory because she lost him at a very young age. I felt really strange when reading the part in which she describes how she killed someone, I assume that person is her father, and also how she killed herself. I read in the author’s biography that she tried to kill herself in many occasions until she finally achieved it. This is very terrifying for me to read, the way she talks about death and suicide because I do not agree with that.

    Camilo Andres Casadiegos Niz

  3. “Daddy” by Sylvia Plath is a poem written in 1962, but published posthumously in the book “Ariel” in 1965. Plath was an American poet, novelist and short-story writer who had and still has, a great influence on literature. She is known for her death-related writing style. In “Daddy” she used heavy and outrageous language to show her hate to her father as well as the agony in her miserable life. Nonetheless, what is seen literally in this poem, does not refer to what really was in the author’s mind. While her words want to “kill” her father, she indeed deeply loved him, which can be perceived between the lines. And it is the contradiction amid her love and hatred to her father that lets us know how she struggled with her dead father and her husband in real life and how her destiny inevitably came to an end with suicide.

    It is undoubtedly a difficult poem for some, not only for its complex vocabulary, but for its content: fierce descriptions, Jewish anguish, and a bitter tone that can make it a-not-very-comfortable reading experience. However, I must admit that I really liked it. Generally speaking, the poem relates the author's journey of coming to terms with her father; he died when she was just eight. She plays herself as a victim and him as several figures, including a Nazi, a vampire, a devil, and finally as her husband, whom she also had to “kill”. Alternatively, this poem could also be a very resilient expression of resentment against the male supremacy over women and also the violence of all kinds for which men are accountable. The author expresses her fury against her 'daddy', but daddy, in this context, is also a symbol of the masculine.

    I believe that Sylvia Plath was stuck between seeing her father in the eyes of a child and the eyes of an adult. She was still a daughter who never grew out of the stage that all daughters go through, thinking their fathers are the closest thing to God. She was mad at her father for dying. But not only that, because after reading many biographies of Sylvia, I found out that her dad was rather cold and old fashioned. He did not use to play much with her and her mother took her upstairs occasionally so that she did not bother him. Therefore, at the end, I decided that this poem is mostly about the frustration she felt for him for being so harsh and also for dying while she was still too young.

  4. Daddy
    "Daddy" is a poem written and first published in 1962 by the American poet Sylvia Plath, shortly before dying. The story relates Silvia’s Plath relationship with her father and her husband, which was written in a time of feminism when women fight in order to freely act and to think critically. The first stanza depicts a remarkable expression of bitterness against males. This masterpiece is a combination of melancholy since the text is mainly about a confession of the main character who states at the very beginning a convincing remark saying “You do not do, you do not do any more, black shoe” meaning some resentment. Seemingly, he was unloving and cold. Even though Plath honored him with this poetic work attempting to look for a way to demonstrate devotedness in spite of the indifference towards her.

    At the very beginning when I read the title, I inferred the theme was maybe about a little girl who wrote a letter to her father. Nonetheless, after reading the whole narration I completely changed my mind when I realized it was the story of a submissive woman who suffered from men domination and psychological mistreatment. Regarding the theme, I would like to highlight how love and resentment were put into literary symbols. Furthermore, the use of the German words which denote her dad’s character and Silvia’s filial love. Moreover, the way she portrays this man as a perfect person, emphasizing the Aryan appearance of German men. With regard to this fact, I suppose that she allegedly felt inferior compared to him, when she refers to her gypsy roots making a distinction among both.

    To put in a nutshell, "Daddy" proves the amazing talent the author had, when writing this creative work. Additionally, it reflects the individual struggle between himself and society due to the emotional struggle the writer was going through at that time. Undoubtedly, this was part of the conflict in her personal life and childhood traumas. On the one hand, death meant a decisive turning point in her lifetime. On the other hand, these circumstances did not allow her to devote and share meaningful experiences with relatives. Besides, the words used symbolize the necessity to be loved and to be heard despite of a life full of inconvenients such as loss of life, hatred and love absence.

  5. When I read the tittle of the poem, I knew that the main character of the story would be a father and also that all would turn around him. In fact, I thought it maybe would be about a little girl, who wrote a beautiful writing to her devoted father. Nevertheless, after reading it several times, I realized that “Daddy” reflects the author’s childhood and the different feelings she wanted to express by contrasting the good and bad things she went through during her life.

    I really loved “Daddy”, because it is too descriptive and that helped me to get deeply involved with the story. Being that, the author voiced in her poem her love and fury against her father, her husband and all the masculine gender, which she described with a bitter and sweet taste of life. As a result, because of those feelings Path committed suicide when she was 30 years old. However, I felt gloomy when I knew how her life ended, because she abandoned her children who were in an early age and at the same time, she did not enjoy the benefits of her work.

    As a final remark, I think we need to know the author’s life in order to have a global viewpoint about what she wanted to express, those facts which influenced and inspired her to write and represented her life. Being that, she used her writing as a means to express herself in an indirect way. Therefore, I believed that this poem is mostly about the absence of a masculine figure in the childhood of a girl, which generated a lack of confidence in her.

  6. “Daddy” can be considered as Sylvia Plath's best-known poem, being written in 1962 and published shortly after her death which was caused by suicide. This work is completely autobiographical, providing information and focusing on the author’s life, which was full of suffering owing to the relationship she had with her father and the sorrow and confusion she felt after he died. She obsessively loved him but at the same time she deeply hated him too, fact, that completely oppressed her until the last moments of her life.

    The writer, through this poem wants to express her experiences of misery, affliction and pain lived because of the relationship with her father and also with her husband. These events led her to feel contempt and anger towards men in general, showing in her written words the disappointment towards that genre and clearly defending hers. Plath’s work includes a large amount of literary figures designed to represent and exemplify men’s treatment and influence over women’s life. One of them is the holocaust, invoking the Nazis to represent men as tyrants, and violent oppressors, and Jews to represent women as the victims of them. She also uses some words such as vampire and devil to refer to men as something bad, always meaning that they are the worst. These examples lead us to think of a situation that many people live daily, especially children, when they suffer because of the violent environment that exists in their home and therefore their parents’ treatments. Those treatments consequently affect children’s life, changing their innocent emotions for feelings of anger, hatred and contempt.

    To sum up, this magnificent work clearly expresses the desperate desire of the author to pull out all those repressed feelings that overwhelm her. It’s also a cry for freedom and independence by the female gender, who want to avoid the domain that men have always exercised on their gender. I really liked this poem, though it was very complex and difficult to understand.

  7. “Daddy" is a poem written by Sylvia Plath. She was an American poet and she wrote it a few months before her suicide. Through this magnificent work, the author tells us the way her relationship with her father was since she reveals troughout it the conflict between hating and adoring him.
    Personally, I think this poem can be considered as a kind of confession in which she attacks her husband and her father in a literary, but also in a symbolic manner. For example, Plath associates her father and her negative feelings towards him to Hitler and his Nazi regime, maybe because she could have suffered emotional or mental abuse from him. This fact shows that her paternal relationship was distant and she was afraid of her father due to his domination because he did not allow her to express herself in the way she wanted. Furthermore, the poem also touches on Plath’s relationship with her husband, “Ted”. The author compares him with a vampire that "drank her blood", since he absorbed her life, and he also suppressed her in the same sense that her father did.
    Finally, “Daddy” is a poem in which we can find feelings of anger, depression, sadness, fear, and love. Personally, I identified myself with this poem because as the author’s situation, I did not have a close relationship with my dad. He died five years ago and sometimes I wonder if he really loved me. Thank God, life has given me the best mother in the world and I feel very lucky of it. To conclude, I can say Sylvia Plath is a very emotional writer, and her poem “Daddy” displays a very complex set of sensations. I love this poem because it is so moving and beautiful in a sadly depressing way.