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 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.

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 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 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.

related information

  • a paper on Imagery in Sylvia Plath's Daddy by Nicola Goelzhaeuser

    an essay by Caryn Sala on Resolving Undesired Anger: The complexity of tone and symbols in Sylvia Plath's 'Daddy'
    an essay by Renee Worlock on
    Free At Last: Conquering the Darkness in Sylvia Plath's 'Daddy'

  • The King Must Die - Rechoreographing the Father-Daughter Dance an interesting article about father-daughter-relationships by Carolyne Pion
  • Resolving Undesired Anger: The complexity of tone and symbols in Sylvia Plath's 'Daddy' a short essay by Caryn Sala from the State University of New York College at Cortland, written for an Introduction to Poetry course

  • Sylvia the Vampire Slayer an essay exploring the meaning of the vampire metaphor in Daddy, by Malcolm Raisans, an English major from Bloomsburg University.

    Works dealing with this poem:

  • Cam, Heather. "Daddy: Sylvia Plath's Debt to Anne Sexton." American Literature 59 (1987): 429-32.
  • DeJong, Mary G. "Sylvia Plath and Sheila Ballantyne's Imaginary Crimes." Studies in American Fiction 16 (1988): 27-38.
  • Ramazani, Jahan. "Daddy I Have Had to Kill You: Plath, Rage, and the Modern Elegy." Publications of the Modern Language Association of America 108 (1993): 1142-56.
  • Srivastava, K.G. "Plath's Daddy." The Explicator 50 (1992): 126-28.

    Poems by Sylvia Plath