Let Your Songs Be Still of Love

Love and writing are bound together for the Sidney family at Penshurst. The lovers in Wroth’s play Love’s Victory are counselled:

Let your songs be still of love;
Write no satires which may prove
Least offensive to his name.
If you do you will but frame
Words against your selves, and lines
Where his good, and your ill shines. (Act 2 Scene 3).

Students from Simon Langton Girls’ School (Canterbury) learned about the craft of writing from calligrapher Els Van Den Steen, when they visited Penshurst on 17 April 2017.

Els, students and quills

Els Van Den Steen brought along examples of the transcriptions by her calligraphy students of poems by the Sidney circle relating to love and fortune which will be added to and compiled as a ‘Book of Fortunes,’ an important prop in Wroth’s play Love’s Victory.

Alison Findlay talks to students about images of writing in sonnets by Lady Mary Wroth and her uncle Sir Philip Sidney, from the opening sonnet of Sidney’s Astrophell and Stella where Nature commands ‘Look in thy heart and write’ to the end of Wroth’s collection of sonnets Pamphilia to Amphilanthus where she signs off with the lines

Leaue the discourse of Venus, and her sonne
To young beginners, and their braines inspire
With storyes of great Loue, and from that fire,
Get heat to write the fortunes they haue wonne.