Charm’d magic casements, opening
on the foam
Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn.
Chopin, “subtle-souled psychologist,” is more kin to Keats than Shelley, he is a greater artist than a thinker. His philosophy is of the beautiful, as was Keats’, and while he lingers by the river’s edge to catch the song of the reeds, his gaze is oftener fixed on the quiring planets. He is nature’s most exquisite sounding-board and vibrates to her with intensity, color and vivacity that have no parallel. Stained with melancholy, his joy is never that of the strong man rejoicing in his muscles. Yet his very tenderness is tonic and his cry is ever restrained by an Attic sense of proportion. Like Alfred De Vigny, he dwelt in a “tour d’ivoire” that faced the west and for him the sunrise was not, but O! the miraculous moons he discovered, the sunsets and cloud-shine! His notes cast great rich shadows, these chains of blown-roses drenched in the dew of beauty. Pompeian colors are too restricted and flat; he divulges a world of half-tones, some “enfolding sunny spots of greenery,” or singing in silvery shade the song of chromatic ecstasy, others “huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail” and black upon black. Chopin is the color genius of the piano, his eye was attuned to hues the most fragile and attenuated; he can weave harmonies that are as ghostly as a lunar rainbow. And lunar-like in their libration are some of his melodies—glimpses, mysterious and vast, as of a strange world.
His utterances are always dynamic, and he emerges betimes, as if from Goya’s tomb, and etches with sardonic finger Nada in dust. But this spirit of denial is not an abiding mood; Chopin throws a net of tone over souls wearied with rancors and revolts, bridges “salty, estranged seas” of misery and presently we are viewing a mirrored, a fabulous universe wherein Death is dead, and Love reigns Lord of all.