Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Poem of the Day: "Daddy" by Sylvia Plath

The Songs of Eretz Poetry Review Poem of the Day for November 18, 2014 is "Daddy" by Sylvia Plath, Poet of the Month.  The text of the poem may be found here:  http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/178960.  A biography of Ms. Path and references may be found here:  http://eretzsongs.blogspot.com/2014/09/the-songs-of-eretz-poet-of-month-for.html.

"Daddy" is comprised of sixteen stanzas of five lines each.  Most lines contain three metrical feet forming a sinister, nursery rhyme rhythm with relentless rhymes on the sound "oo."

The narrative of the poem is autobiographical.  Sylvia's father, Otto Plath (pictured), was a German immigrant and college professor.  He was austere and authoritarian and died suddenly when Sylvia was eight.  This affected Sylvia deeply, filling her with conflicted feeling of love, hate, loss, and betrayal--hence all the German/Nazi references in the poem.  At the age of nineteen, Sylvia attempted suicide--an allusion to this is made in the twelfth stanza.  In the thirteenth and fourteenth stanzas, Sylvia alludes to her unhappy marriage, comparing her husband with her father.

Sylvia Plath eventually ended her own life by gassing herself in an oven.  One wonders if she were thinking about "Daddy," her father and the poem, as she died.  The Nazis used gas and ovens to murder the Jews.

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