Seventy-five years ago today—on January 28, 1939—William Butler Yeats died at a boarding house on the French Riviera. He was 73 years old, at the height of his fame and glory. “Mr. Yeats frequently let his mind roam far afield in the realm of fancy,” gushed the New York Times obituary, “and it is for the gentle beauty of such works that he was hailed by many as the greatest poet of his time in the English language.”
But there was no gentle beauty in the three poems by Yeats that appeared in The Atlantic in January 1939, the month the poet died. All of them are brutal pieces of deathbed reckoning.
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