The main surprise is that on the Friday before her death, Plath had posted a letter of goodbye to Hughes which he had received earlier than she'd expected -
"Your note reached me too soon—-that same day,So she posted the letter in the morning possibly assuming he would receive it the following day. Instead he got it that afternoon and rushed around to her flat fearing the worst. She was getting ready to spend the weekend with friends. The insinuation is that her plan was to let him stew in panic over the weekend not knowing whether she was dead or alive and if alive no idea where she was -
Friday afternoon, posted in the morning"
..."That was one more straw of ill-luck
Drawn against you by the Post-Office"
..."Had I bungled your plan?Yet Hughes arrives at her flat, Plath burns the letter and Hughes is seemingly reassured enough after seeing her to leave her alone with their children and go off for the weekend with no further contact with her.
Had it surprised me sooner than you purposed?
Had I rushed it back to you too promptly?
One hour later—-you would have been gone
Where I could not have traced you."
"How I would have got through that weekend.
I cannot imagine. Had you plotted it all?"
"My last sight of you alive.The poem tells us that he spent the Sunday night with Susan, who turns out to be Susan Alliston, a poet who died in 1969 of Hodgkin's disease. Hughes wrote the introduction to her book of poems. Another surprise - Assia wasn't the only other woman he was having an affair with. The strangest part is that they spent the night in the same room / flat on Rugby street where Hughes and Plath had spent their wedding night, the very bed even -
Burning your letter to me, in the ashtray,
With that strange smile."
..."But what did you say
Over the smoking shards of that letter
So carefully annihilated, so calmly,
That let me release you, and leave you"
"Susan and I spent that nightThere is also the suggestion that Plath phoned Hughes several times during that last Sunday night and early dawn on Monday. Hughes being the only one privy to her last diary entries, she may have recorded such fruitless attempts to get in touch with him -
In our wedding bed. I had not seen it
Since we lay there on our wedding day."
Did the phone ring there in my empty room,
You hearing the ring in your receiver"
"Towards the phone booth that can never be reached.The poem is another bizarre addition to the mystery of events. Clearly, to my mind, Hughes wanted this poem published posthumously otherwise he would have destroyed it instead he entrusted a typed copy of it to his wife, Carol.
Before midnight. After midnight. Again.
Again. Again. And, near dawn, again."
I've got to say, I like our present poet laureate but her response to the poem as "a bit like looking into the sun as it's dying" is surely the most hyperbolic twee I've ever read!