Synopsis: A Lover of Poets
There were once two extraordinary souls touched by one another in an unprecedented act of mutual exploration. One was a story teller, a bard of some renown, and the other was a peculiar young nobleman in the throws adolescent angst. The boy was reluctant to grow-up and leave childish things behind. He loved the theater and games and saw the arts as his playground. These two souls were destined to know one another as Poet and Patron.
The remarkable youth awakened the poet’s sympathy at first because of his beauty and station in life, although the lad was selfish and difficult to love, but also because of his extraordinary need. It was evident that the young lord’s quest was mostly to know himself and the wide world better. Although he had had the best education, he had lacked the love of a parent. Faced with premature pressure to grow up and live up to his responsibilities, he was in open rebellion.
The rebellious youth had had a difficult childhood. His parents were virtually at war with one another and when his father died (when he was quite young) he became a ward of the state. So it was not only important to himself that he find his footing as a man, but also to his high placed family and his relations (which included the Queen and her chief minister who was his guardian).
So even though he had lived a life of privilege he didn’t know what love was let alone whom to love. He was all at sea and insisted on some happiness before he married and settled down. Apparently the poet pleased him and met his unique needs because he became part of the young lord’s life for over three years. It seems that poet may have resided with the young lord as a kind of secretary, a position of servitude for which he was very well suited.
Not only was the poet a distant kinsman to the young Lord, but he had previously served both as a teacher and as a scrivener. His early works as a playwright were well known to his lordship’s family and it would have been acceptable to take him on as a kind of gentleman usher*. The time was ripe as the playhouses had been closed by the plague and most noble families repaired to the country for the sake of their health. The country life suited the poet perfectly as he was used to returning to his own country roots for inspiration.
There was fascination all around by the poet’s ability to reflect the young man’s character in the magic mirror of his art. Often that mirror was flattering and extolled the youth’s better qualities, but it could also be critical and eventually revealed images of what the noble youth could become. The power of art transformed them both and the servant poet became a kind of tutor if not quite a father figure to the boy, not unlike an older brother or mentor. In an act of generous license through his patron’s indulgence and thanks to his art the poet was privileged to play a role in the young lord’s quest for adult personhood: not a bad accomplishment for a mere entertainer.
*For the poet’s sojourn with his Lordship I am indebted to (among others) Muriel Bradbrook who asserts the idea convincingly.