Saturday, September 20, 2014

My Favorite Poem

This poem has always spoken to the dark side of me, as does much of Sylvia's poetry.

Daddy

by 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 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 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 gipsy 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.
And after the first time I ever read this poem, I wrote the following poem of my own:

Every woman adores a Fascist.
Is that why I was drawn to you rapidly,
why I came back to you repeatedly?
Though my body never suffered under your hand,
my heart was painfully bruised;
My soul nearly died as it was beaten down.
Soon I felt even less than unworthy.
I felt no one could ever love me but you,
which is what you wanted me to believe.
Then, when I met another who was determined to show me how important I could be,
You fell upon me, attempting to quell my rebellion with the turn of a screw.
I was ensnared so heavily by your silver tongue that I threw away my only chance for freedom--
Left him there and came once more to you;
once more I found myself in the pits of Hell.
When I at last gathered the strength to escape and ran to him who had once offered shelter,
I found him gone, tired of watching me destroy myself.
For it was me all along, not you--the life I had was the one I had chosen.
© 1982 TDD

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