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 the 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 gypsy 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.

 

Quote from Year Without Pants (Chapter 22)

The transition to managing a larger team reminded me that when everything is going fine, management is easy. Thousands of managers around the world inherit healthy teams in healthy companies, do little of merit, and get great rewards for just being in the right place at the right time. The real story behind some people you meet with fantastic reputations isn’t notable talents or skills, but merely an exceptional ability to choose the right time to join and leave particular projects. The work of managers everywhere is rarely evaluated with enough consideration for the situation they inherited and the situations they faced that were not in their control. We all make judgments of ability at the most superficial levels. If the results are good, we give praise. If the results are poor, we criticize. We rarely give credence to the feeling in the back of our minds that the winner or loser doesn’t quite fit the part. We know in our careers people who were shafted, taking the fall for incompetence that wasn’t theirs, and also people who slide through organizations as if coated with Teflon, causing misery and frustration at every turn, yet they move into promotions unscathed.

  – Scott Berkun

Quote from Year Without Pants (Chapter 19)

The natural mistake engineers make is to build from the bottom up. They leave the user interface last, assuming it is the least complex technology. This is wrong. Humans are much more complex than software, and since the interface has to interact with people, it’s the most difficult to do well. By building from the bottom up, technologists paint themselves into a corner, resulting in ugly, hard-to-use things. By the time they finally got to the user interface work, so many constraints exist that even the best designers in the world couldn’t salvage the project. The answer is simple: design the user interface first. This is a mandate at any organization that makes things people love to use.

 – Scott Berkun

The Year Without Pants (Chapter 7 – The Big Talk)

I think  most  big software companies have forgotten this (or never knew  it):

As I watched Team Social work, happily uncontaminated by any pretense of management by me, I kept in mind the lesson I learned from Joe Belfiore, one of the best bosses I’ve ever had. He told me the central way he’d evaluate me was the quality of what made it out the door. It wasn’t about the ideas I had or how I managed schedules. It wasn’t how I ran meetings or how well liked I was. Those were all secondary. What mattered was what we shipped. And he told me the only reason anything good ships is because of the programmers. They are everything. They are not factory employees; they are craftspeople, craftspeople who are the fundamental creative engine of making software. 

– Scott Berkun