Q: Poetry is often written as a result of reflecting on an intense emotional experience or a significant event. Examine the techniques used by one poet to convey the significance of an experience or event which gave rise to a poem or a sequence of poems.
“Daddy”is a very emotional poem by Sylvia Plath. She wrote it just before she committed suicide in the early 1960's. It is a very angry poem which is centred around Plath's relationship with her father, who died when she was much younger. Much of her anger and emotion arises from this event. Despite the fact that he has been dead for some time, it is still certain that she feels affected by it.
The first verse of the poem creates the tone followed throughout, and helps to set the rest of the poem in context:
“You do not do not do, you do not do
Anymore, black shoe
In which I have lived like a foot
For thirty years, poor and white,
Barely daring to breathe or Achoo.”
Here, the poet is stating that they have “...lived like a foot for thirty years...”, a simile that is giving the sense that she has felt oppressed for her whole life, as living “like a foot” is a claustrophobic image, showing how she cannot break free of the “black shoe” which it is made apparent is representing her “daddy” figure. The opening line, “You do not do...” is similar to how a parent would tell a child off, but the poet is reversing the role here, and so her anger at her father is shown straight away. The whole of the first verse is an extended metaphor, to convey the poet's anger at feeling trapped all of her life by the death of her father. The line “Barely daring to breathe of Achoo.” shows how this has given her a sense of claustrophobia, not being able to escape from a “black shoe” “black” appearing throughout the poem, giving connotations of evil, the poet exaggerates in order to express her feelings on her father, and her anger at his death. In verse two, she refers to him as “marble heavy, a bag full of God”, which represents how he has been weighing her down. The use of the word “God” is to give the sense that her father has been the all-powerful force in her life until now. “Daddy, I have had to kill you.” reveals the intent behind her writing the poem, to enable her to “purge” her father out of her life at last. For the poet, “Daddy” is a cathartic experience, and this is communicated to the reader because her anger is apparent in the accusing tone used, she's addressing the problems in her life and pointing the finger at him. She describes him here in the second verse as a “Ghastly statue” saying that there is something sinister about him, “statue” refers to how he has been immovable, ever-present in her life even after his death. The image of him described in verses two and three focuses on the scale of him. “One gray toe, big as a Frisco seal/And a head in the freakish Atlantic...” - he is continental. It's almost as if he is too much, and the poet cannot handle the amount that she has built him up in her mind, so much that it almost takes over. But, not all of her feelings towards her father are negative: