The end of Yeats: work and women in his last days in France

Yeats_GeorgeYeats had a late creative surge – including ‘one of the greatest ever death-bed utterances’ – before he died surrounded by his muses in France 75 years ago.

William Butler Yeats died 75 years ago today [January 28, 2014] at 2.30pm in a small upstairs room at the Hôtel Idéal Séjour in Roquebrune Cap Martin. The room had a wrought-iron balcony overlooking the Mediterranean, his final vista. Yeats’s wife, George, and his last mistress, Edith Shackleton Heald, were at his bedside. They took turns holding vigil over his body that night.

In 1937, Yeats’s Irish friends had collected money to make his old age more comfortable. At the dinner where it was presented, Yeats said it would enable him and George to winter in the south of France, where the climate would be more kind to his angina-stricken heart. “My glory was I had such friends,” he wrote in The Municipal Gallery Revisited, the poem he penned for the occasion.

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