Daddy Poem by Sylvia Plath
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Daddy Poem by Sylvia Plath (Summary and Analysis)

In her daddy poem by Sylvia Plath expresses her personal feelings towards her father via passionate and even painful analogies.

Daddy Poem by Sylvia Plath

Daddy Poem by Sylvia Plath

Most people remember Sylvia Plath for her wounded soul. Perhaps therefore readers of her poems, like “Daddy,” so easily relate to it.

She has a remarkable talent for putting some of the most difficult feelings into words. The reader can sense her suffering because of the way she writes. She reflects on her father after his passing in the poem “Daddy.”

This is not your standard obituary poetry where you mourn the death of a loved one and hope to see them again.

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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 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.

By Sylvia Plath

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Summary

The speaker of the poem begins by strikingly portraying her father in a variety of ways. He is simultaneously a Nazi, a fascist, a vampire, and the “black shoe” she was imprisoned in.

His life imprisoned her both when he was living and ever since he passed away. She is attempting to fight against the way he holds her back and confines her. To get away from her father, she must “murder” him.

Daddy Poem by Sylvia Plath

Poetic Techniques

In “Daddy,” Plath employs a variety of literary devices, including enjambment, metaphor, simile, and juxtaposition.

1. Juxtaposition: is used to highlight a contrast between two opposing things or concepts by putting them in dialogue with one another.

A poet typically does this to discuss a more general issue in their writing or to emphasize a significant distinction between these two items. In this poetry, the emotions of childhood or innocence are consistently contrasted with agony.

2. The speaker uses Metaphors and Similes to express her feelings for her father throughout the poem. He is contrasted with a Nazi, a sadist, a vampire, and a few other individuals and things.

3. Enjambment: When a line is terminated before it naturally comes to an end, this happens. It pushes the reader to rapidly move on to the following sentence.

To easily resolve a phrase or sentence, one must proceed. There are instances of this method in virtually every stanza, but readers should focus on the first lines of stanzas three and four for particularly moving examples.

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Themes

The discussion Plath has with her father regarding the repressive nature of their relationship in the text should be taken into account while analyzing the key topics in “Daddy.”

This piece and others that Plath authored frequently address the idea of release from tyranny or from captivity. She was obviously still enthralled by her father’s life and the way he lived, even after his passing.

However, life and death should also be seen as significant themes in Plath’s “Daddy.” This poem would not exist as it does if her father had not lived the way he did and passed away at the age he did when Plath was still relatively young.

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