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. Jen says:

    To those who think this is not about her Dad let me give you some info, her dad taught German at Boston University, he died from gangrene complications (his toe turned black look at first stanza), he was born in Poland, and was of German decent…thus all the Nazi comments…she may not have loved her husband at this point, but I definately think this poem was about her father.

  2. Ashlynn says:

    Sylvia Plath is my favorite poet. Her poems are so deep and real. She spoke her mind about things that were really happening to her. “Daddy” speaks to me in that I understand the feelings of anger that she poured into it. In the process of accepting her father’s death, she felt deserted and alone. I believe anger is great fuel for writing poetry.

  3. Danielle says:

    I think this poem is about Both her Husband ted and about her Dad,it seems to say more about her dad but truly a lot more about her husband,its almost like you have to be in a certain mood and time of your life to understand the every true meaning of her words,making a connection with your heart and feelings.The anger and passion in her words touch me so strong…I have been absolutely in love w/ her work since the first time I read about her.

  4. mani says:

    wellthe poem is masterly sewed and the important aspecyt abt this is that it is abt *HITLER the great* and her deep emotional attachement with her a sweet gal /boy can understand this if really he had been loved . if u r one u can get it

  5. Taylor says:

    Personally after reading critics on several of her poems it about not only her father Otto but also about her husband who left her for a younger girl when it sayd 7 years, she was married to her husband for 7 years for some reason she feels the need to make herself older when her father dies he died when she was 8 not 10 when she was 20 she tries to comment suicide thats why that part is in there and the vampire is her husband, she wants to let go of him but can’t until she said she was through, she never really gets over him though((((i don’t belive this poems about anger, stress, but more about hopelesses ness and abandement from the men in her life, they controlled her future not the other way around))))

  6. Stacy says:

    this poem is good but it is crazy!!!!

  7. Laila says:

    Daddy is neither soley concerned with Otto (Sylvia’s father) nor Ted but rather a combination of both. This is particularly evident in the twelfth and fifteenth stanzas where she slips freely between discussing the two- thus showing her perception of both of the predominant male influences in her life as being one and the same. An example of this point is when the speaker declares,
    “I made a model of you,
    A man in black with a Meinkampf look”
    Here she implies that she deliberately sought a husband to reflect the memory of her father and replace his presence in her life. As such although much of the poem may superfluously seem concerned with simple slander of her father’s persona it is much deeper than this, as the psychoanalytic imago of her Daddy shows, and it is an amalgamation of both the psychological archetype of the speaker’s memories of him and her own psychic oppression.

  8. Gwen says:

    i had to do a project on Sylvia Plath and i wasnt very excited at first but after i read ‘daddy’ it truely inspired me. i really enjoyed it and actually understood it. i do believe ‘daddy’ is about her father and how she had to deal with a his death. she related the vampire to him as a dead soul in a human form. her father was an immigrant from Germany so she called him a Nazi because of his rough and unfair treatment. she called herself the Jew, being the victim. i think this may be the first poem i can really ralate to and understand. i thought this truly was a great poem.

  9. Dannielle Austin says:

    i don’t think that i have eever read any of Sylvia Plath’s poems.

  10. Brian says:

    tran-D is obviously very well educated and we should all listen to his view of the poem…..

  11. Victoria M says:

    This poem about her emotional struggles, and i personaly think is about her father and husband. She puts herself in a nazi’s childs view and release her anger of men and society into this poem. Though it is very angery i think it is very powerful and well written

  12. Cheddarbob says:

    Well, I have read the poem, and after careful thought I can conclude that it was indeed written by Sylvia Plath, and not by a purple alien dressed in women’s clothing and putting on a fake American accent, as rumour has it. I believe whoever started this ridiculous rumour is an utter nincompoop, they know who they are, and I should think they are feeling mighty sheepish right about now.

  13. Mike says:

    In a time of need, this poem can be great to read. A very angry poem I think, however, anger is one of the ways people deal with stress and internal struggle. This poem is about Plath’s personal life, it has nothing to do with her father. She compares “Daddy” as an image of evil, of hate. She’s using this Daddy character also as a nazi who persecuted Jews. This connection to the holocaust is very powerful. Reading this poem is great when your depressed or have depression problems. The anger expressed in this poem is very healing and soothing.

  14. Alice says:

    Sylvia Plath’s outstanding poem ‘Daddy’ is evidently based on memories of her father Otto Plath, who died when she was eight years of age.It emphasises the many similarities he shared with her husband, Ted Hughes.Many terms described throughout WW2 suggest hatred for her father as if he was a Nazi.This powerful poem is one to be remembered because of its uniqueness and talented writer Sylvia Plath, who sadly felt the need to end her life at the age of thirty.

  15. ashley says:

    this poem isnt about her dad. its really about her husband. she didnt like him, didnt love him, she loved his poems, she fell in love with his poems, so married him. she knew that she couldnt write a poem about him directly, so she called it “daddy” to talk about the father of her children.

  16. Heather says:

    I think that the poem is about Plath’s own personal experiences. She was known to do that. Plath’s father and husband were both very dominating and this poem represents how she felt about them.

  17. julie says:

    The worst things anyone has ever been through in his or her own life are the only real atrocities he or she can really know. Everyone has their own internal Hell to deal with, just some deal differently than others. She used the imagery of the Holocaust to describe that inner turmoil. It’s the evils we face in life given a twentieth centry face. It’s also the courage and strength in surviving it.
    “Daddy”, I think, is about triupmhing over that more than the suffering. I find strength in this poem. The anger as a necessary process in the healing.
    She’s not the first, nor the last, to use the Holocaust as a metaphor. It’s as much a process of learning from history as it is to simply study it in the context it occurred.

  18. Vi says:

    Sylvia is a wonderful poet and a strong woman. Most of her poems are deep and outstanding. Daddy is one of my favorite.

  19. emma says:

    Sylvia was a very strong lady and is a great poet

  20. Lee P says:

    Have you ever thought about how life can possible go on for those who have experienced real atrocities? Whether this is truth to Sylvia or to be taken as a metaphor it tells volumes about life in the shadow of badly placed beliefs.

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