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 the 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 villagersnever liked you.
They are dancing and stamping on you.
They always knew it was you.
Daddy, daddy, you bastard, I’m through.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Sylvia Plath's poem Daddy


  1. Princes Ub says:

    This is a very nice poem i have ever read.. m going to have a presentation on this poem:)

  2. Eden says:

    in theis poem she is i think refeering to her hate of her father and the way he was strict but at the same time she could be talking bout the way her father died when she was young

  3. Grace says:

    It is ignorant for one not to assume that the persona Plath refers to in this poem is herself. This is confessional poetry!! Plath studied Robert Lowell’s work (Lowell even wrote the foreword to the first American edition of Ariel) and herself acknowledged that the majority of her works were written to document and attempt to relieve personal trauma. The nature of confessional poetry often means that the subject matter may be fictionalised somewhat in order to bend to suit the author’s purpose, however the feelings are not tampered with. With “Daddy” Plath gives the reader an intimate window into her own head, never altering the intense feelings of hatred and resentment she feels toward men.

  4. Eva says:

    An other possibility is that she is representing herself by the colour white. Just like her father is described in the colour black. The contrast.

  5. Michelle says:

    Eva, you asked about this line?
    “The snows of the Tyrol, the cler beer of Vienna
    Are not very pure, or true”

    I actually just spent a lot of time researching what this refers to. Before WWII, the breweries of Vienna were all owned and ran by Jewish people. However, when the Nazi occupation began, these breweries were taken away and put under German management, forcing the Jews from their businesses.

    I am not completely sure if this is what Plath is referring to, but it is the only logical explanation I can make out of these lines.

    I hope I helped 🙂

  6. Michelle says:

    Why must everyone insist that this poem is about Plath’s life? Whether or not it is indeed true, we as readers can only assume that the speaker isn’t the author, but rather a persona created to tell a story. Isn’t it always the first rule to never say the poet is the speaker?

  7. sexy latina yvonne says:

    when talking to a child, the frequency and tone of your voice changes in pattern into a more soothing sound, In Sylvia Plath’s “Daddy”, the rhyming sound of (ooh) gives it a melody or lullabye sound. there is a childish tone in the poem; she does refer to her father as daddy 🙂 (which is kinda kute)


    when she refers to the shoe. she could be refering to the nursery rhyme of the old woman who lived in a shoe 🙂

    when she speaks of a vampyre (the correct way to spell it.. duh!) that has sucked on her blood for 7 years she is refering to Ted who was married with her for seven years. The one year, was when he was not being loyal to her and was being a lil manwhore 🙂 (yupyup guys can be bigger sluts than girls)

    Frisco seal?? well im not sure what she means by that
    but there are alot of really BIG kute gray seals in san fransisco =)

    the last stanzas could be refferring to the American Witch Trials
    kinda like in Salem


    well these are some krazy ideas of mine
    but i do need help interpreting so if someone is willing to help me just email me

    thanx 🙂

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