In The affectionate Shepherd Richard Barnfield describes a seductress who is agressively courting a young man. She also has an older and infatuated suitor . This is a parrallel narrative to Willobie his Avisa and that the older infatuated suitor is none other than "The Old Player " Mr W.S.
Richard Barnfield clearly doesn't like the older suitor who he describes as a boorish old man. In addition Barnfield tells us that the older suitor crowns the object of his love with garlands made of Bays. This is an indication that the older suitor was a poet. Garlands of Bays were awarded to poets and playwrights at the Pythian games of ancient Greece .
Garland making is a metaphor for poetry writing. The fact that the older suitor is crowing the object of his love with Garlands of Bays means that he has been writing love poetry about her. .
For a poet to be crowning the object of his love with a garland of Bays means that he is claiming her as his personal muse . We can see that Barnfield was trying to discredit this poet in the eyes of Ganymede .
Daphnis wants to reveal the divided loyalty of the old suitor and forward himself as being the poet who will devote himself solely to Ganymede.
The Affectionate Shepherd is really a book that is
1 Stating Barnfields love of young and aristocratic Ganymede
2 Warning Ganymede about an unchaste woman who doesn't actually love him
3 warning Ganymede about his personal poet whose real affections lie with the unchaste lady aristocrat Queen Guendolin and not with Ganymede.
WHAT BARNFIELD WAS TRYING TO DO was REPLACE BOTH GUENDOLEN AS GANYMEDES LOVER AND THE OLD MAN AS GANYMEDES PERSONAL POET -
And who was the poet who Daphnis hates ???
We need to read the passage about the Old Suitor and we recognise a Robert Greene style pun
the arrow of love wafted at WILL who is a poet who guendolen cannot SHAKE and is inlove uPto the EAREs
The poet who Daphnis HATES is WILL SHAKESPEARE.
This full passage needs to be seen as a new and previously unrecognized allusion to William Shakespeare.
(I explore this finding in depth in my paper The Old Suitor ? A new allusion to William Shakespeare)
Ultimately The Affectionate Shepherd needs to be seen as a private conversation that Barnfield is having with 1 Penelope Rich 2 William Shakespeare and 3 Henry Wriothesley.
These are the SAME people who he is also having a private conversation with in the libel Willobie His Avisa.