And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted - nevermore!
- from "The Raven" by Edgar Allan Poe
It was James Huneker who first made the connection between the artists, whom he dubbed “two wraiths of genius” in his 1899 collection of essays, Mezzotints in Modern Music.
The similarities begin in the cradle and end in the grave. Edgar Allan Poe and the Poet of the Piano were born only weeks apart and died within days of each other. Evidence of rare talent emerged early from both.
“Morbid, neurotic [in] nature, they lived with…intensity,” wrote Huneker, “Poe and Chopin all their lives were tortured by the desire of beauty, by the vision of perfection….Both were narrow in sympathies…and rich in mood-versatility.” It’s no wonder “haunting” amply describes much of their lyrical output, at its best in short-, not long-form for both.
“A curious coincidence,” Huneker calls it, “two supremely melancholy artists of the beautiful lived and died almost synchronously--” Chopin, surrounded by friends in a Parisian apartment; Poe, alone and neglected in a hospital in Baltimore.
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling- my darling- my life and my bride,
In the sepulchre there by the sea,
In her tomb by the sounding sea
- from "Annabel Lee" by Edgar Allan Poe- Jennifer Foster