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After reading the poem “Daddy” (MLM p. 268) as well as reading the critical essays on it, what are some of the ideas that you really agree with? Remember, the critical essays you are reading are interpretations, but they are not set in stone. What aspects of these critical essays do you disagree with? Your initial response should be 250 words minimum. Follow up responses should be 50 words.

2.

Choose a poem that you will write about for Essay #1, and spend 20 minutes analyzing it through close reading. Make certain that you do not worry about the structure or form of your response; try to generate as many ideas as you can.

PLATH Daddy
269
Bettmann/Corbis
eight, the year her first poem was published. She graduated with honors from Smith
College in 1950. after an internship at Mademoiselle and a suicide attempt in her
junior year, experiences described in her novel The Bell Jar (1963). She won a Ful-
bright Scholarship to study at Cambridge University, in England, where she met and
married poet Ted Hughes. The couple had two children; the marriage ended the year
before her suicide in 1963. “Daddy” is from Ariel. published posthumously in 1965.
5
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
10
270
CHAPTER 7 Families
Cape Cod inlet
Oh, you
15
20
25
I, I, I, 1
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 Townº
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 Tarocº 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.
30
35
40
45
16 Polish Town: Plath’s father was born in Granbow, Poland. 33 Dachau… Belsen:
Nazi death camps in World War II. 39 Taroc: Tarot cards used to tell fortunes. The prac-
tice may have originated among the early Jewish Cabalists and was then widely adopted by
European Gypsies during the Middle Ages. 42 Luftwaffe: World War II German air
force. 45 panzer-man: A member of the German armored vehicle division.
PLATH Daddy
271
50
55
60
Every woman adores a Fascist,
The boot in the face, the brutes
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 Meinkampfº 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.
65 Meinkampf: Hitler’s autobiography (My Struggle).
65
70
1
75
(1962)
80
= THINKING ABOUT THE TEXT
1. Can this poem be seen as a series of arguments for why Plath has to
forget her father? What complaints does the speaker seem to have
against her father?
2. Some psychologists claim that we all have a love-hate relationship with
our parents. Do you agree? Would Plath’s speaker agree?

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