Friendships: Fulke Greville and Sir Philip Sydney
On my ninth birthday in 1566 my father sent me to Shrewsbury school. I remembered it was fall and the leaves had been gathered and piled. I remembered the miles of garden that led to the stone school. The way the stone would feel cold on your hand even during the heat of summer. Everything was perfect at Shrewsbury. Learning and perfection were present even when walking the grounds.
In the classroom were long redwood tables where we would sit down and translate Latin religious text. This is where I met Fulke. It was the day I forgot my books and my homework. I sat at the table in a nervous state of mind. I wondered if our teacher, Friar Hopkins, would notice and think I lacked the dedication.
This was the moment I noticed that I did not know any of my classmates. After a quick assessment of the situation I realized that I was lucky. These strangers around me were busy translating and the Friar was reading at his podium.
Except for Fulke. Fulke made eye contact. Fulke smiled and noticed I did not have my books open in front of me. He stopped translating, pulled out an extra text from his bag, and slid a book on the table where it stopped next to my resting arm.
A few students quickly glanced up when they heard the scrapping sound on the table and the Friar stopped reading looked around grunted and fell back into his book.
I joined my classmates in our studies and only worried about my new housing arrangement after the academic day was done.
We were just boys. Boys who had been given a decent size room covered with tapestries and one large woven carpet to cover the stone.
Each of us had a wooden framed bed stuffed with hay and one small table and chair. Over each bed was a Crucifix and under our window the tables for study.
I had been moved from my own room at end of the hall and taken to a room to share. I was nervous about making friends. I had no friends at home and this was the first time I I met boys my own age.
So I was relieved when my new roommate was Fulke. The boy who saved my skin in class today. Fulke also seemed excited by the placement. He let out a few hoots of laughter that echoed in our little stone room.
After the move Fulke asked if I had read the poetry coming out of Italy. He told me the story of Petrarch and how he wrote his sonnets as an expression of love to a woman named Laura. He opened the door to my imagination.
Fulke had an extra copy of Petrarch that he shared. From this moment on we studied together, read poetry together, and practiced different lyrical forms together.
A friendship that would last our lifetimes. Both of us worked in Queen Elizabeth's court in our adult lives. We gathered to write our Protestant letters to try to exam Christianity an act that received much scorn from the court. We soon shared our book length dreams of long narrative poems we saw in our sleep.
This friendship that started at school played an important role in Elizabethan poetics.
The friendship between Fullke and Phillip occupies most of Fulke's body of work. A collection that covers both of their lives and continues in Fulke's elegies after Phillips death. Their friendship a testament in the power of friendship and community in the arts.
The path of the arts in history is paved with tiles of friendship.
Sometimes researching and writing makes me feel like an insufferable bore. Especially when my interest lies in poetry, the history of poetry, and how these poets interact within our society. Ideas that should not just be found in Academia even though many friendships start at these institutions.
Artists need to be able to get critical feedback from someone who cares. The back and forth of knowledge both parties have acquired through the act of creation. A completion of an artistic lifestyle.
The more of these types of communities that are formed the more likely our thoughts and feelings will hold validity in this quickly changing modern world.