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by Sylvia Plath

Stanza 1 Summary

Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.

Lines 1-5

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

  • The poem starts with the speaker declaring that she will no longer put up with the black shoe she's lived in, poor and scared, for thirty years.
  • She uses the second person throughout the poem, saying "you," who, as we find out, is "Daddy." So that means that she's comparing her father to a shoe that she's been living in very unhappily – but she's not going to put up with it anymore.
  • This stanza reminds us of a nursery rhyme – the old woman who lived in a shoe. The repetition of "you do not do" in the first line even makes this stanza sound a little singsong-y. But this is no happy nursery rhyme – the speaker is poor, and won't dare to breathe or sneeze, meaning that she feels trapped and scared.

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