On this day in 1789 the composer and pianist Frederic Chopin was born in Warsaw. Chopin’s name is much linked with George Sand, the diminutive but feisty cross-dressing authoress. Chopin would often spend summers at Sand’s country estate at Nohan, in France, where life was relaxed. The painter Delacroix was another visitor: “The hosts could not be more pleasant in entertaining me. When we are not all together at dinner, lunch, playing billiards, or walking, each of us stays in his room, reading or lounging around on a couch. Sometimes, through the window which opens on the garden, a gust of music wafts up from Chopin at work. All this mingles with the songs of nightingales and the fragrance of roses.”
Sadly, Chopin and Sand quarrelled and their relationship ended. Chopin’s work and output is said to have suffered. How much Sand was an inspiration to him we do not know.
Here is a rather strange poem to Chopin by Emma Lazarus:
A dream of interlinking hands, of feet
Tireless to spin the unseen, fairy woof
Of the entangling waltz. Bright eyebeams meet,
Gay laughter echoes from the vaulted roof.
Warm perfumes rise; the soft unflickering glow
Of branching lights sets off the changeful charms
Of glancing gems, rich stuffs, the dazzling snow
Of necks unkerchieft, and bare, clinging arms.
Hark to the music! How beneath the strain
Of reckless revelry, vibrates and sobs
One fundamental chord of constant pain,
The pulse-beat of the poet’s heart that throbs.
So yearns, though all the dancing waves rejoice,
The troubled sea’s disconsolate, deep voice.
Today I will remember that serenity, courage and wisdom are all that I need to cope with life.