The seventh eclogue is a comic contention between young Batte and the elderly Borrill that devolves into a flyting contest as youth mocks age: "Thy legges been crook'd, thy knees done bend for age, | And I am swift and nimble as the Roe, | Thou art ycouped like a bird in cage, | And in the field I wander too and froe." The pair exchange songs mocking and praising the passion of love, though the eclogue, written in a deliberately low style, concludes amicably.
W. W. Greg: "The seventh is a singularly unentertaining dispute, in which typical representatives of age and youth abuse one another by turns" Pastoral Poetry and Pastoral Drama (1906) 104.
Herbert E. Cory: "The seventh eclogue returns to the Februarie motive. Borril, an aged shepherd, reproves 'Batte, a foolish wanton boy, but lately falne in love'" "Spenserian Pastoral" PMLA 25 (1910) 248.
Tillotson and Newdigate: "There is little that suggests SC Februarie, but there are some reminiscences of May; and also, possibly, of the Montanus-Coridon exchange in Lodge's Rosalynde, 1590. The ultimate source is probably in Mantuan's 1st and 2nd eclogues, where Fortunatus tells Faustus of the sorrows of love and the plight of Amyntas is discussed.... Batte may be taken from Battus in Theocritus, Idylls IV, X.... Borrill represents Spenser's adjective 'Borrell' (July 95), meaning rustic, unlearned" Works of Drayton, ed. Hebel (1931-61) 5:10.
Borrill an aged shepheard swaine,
With reasons doth reproove,
Batte a foolish wanton boy,
But lately falne in love.
Borrill, why sit'st thou musing in thy coate?
Like dreaming Merlyn in his drowsie Cell,
What may it be with learning thou doest doate,
Or art inchanted with some Magick spell?
Or wilt thou now an Hermites life professe?
And bid thy beades heare like an Ancoresse?
See how faire Flora decks our fields with flowers,
And clothes our groves in gaudie summers greene,
And wanton Ver distils rose-water showers,
To welcome Ceres, harvests hallowed Queene,
Who layes abroad her lovely sun-shine haires,
Crown'd with great garlands of her golden eares.
Now shepheards layne their blankets all awaie,
And in their Jackets minsen on the plaines,
And at the rivers fishen daie by daie,
Now none so frolicke as the shepheards swaines,
Why liest thou here then in thy loathsome cave,
As though a man were buried quicke in grave.
Batte, my coate from tempest standeth free,
When stately towers been often shakt with wind,
And wilt thou Batte, come and sit with me?
Contented life here shalt thou onely finde,
Here mai'st thou caroll Hymnes, and sacred Psalmes,
And hery Pan, with orizons and almes.
And scorne the crowde of such as cogge for pence,
And waste their wealth in sinfull braverie,
Whose gaine is losse, whose thrift is lewd expence,
And liven still in golden slavery:
Wondring at toyes, as foolish worldlings doone,
Like to the dogge which barked at the moone.
Here maist thou range the goodly pleasant field,
And search out simples to procure thy heale,
What sundry vertues hearbs and flowres doe yeeld,
Gainst griefe which may thy sheepe or thee assaile:
Here mayst thou hunt the little harmeles Hare,
Or else entrap false Raynard in a snare.
Or if thou wilt in antique Romants reede,
Of gentle Lords and ladies that of yore,
In forraine lands atchiev'd their noble deede,
And been renownd from East to Westerne shore:
Or learne the shepheards nice astrolobie,
To know the Planets mooving in the skie.
Shepheard these things been all too coy for mee,
Whose lustie dayes should still be spent in mirth,
These mister artes been better fitting thee,
Whose drouping dayes are drawing towards the earth:
What thinkest thou? my jolly peacocks trayne,
Shall be acoyd and brooke so foule a stayne?
These been for such as make them votarie,
And take them to the mantle and the ring,
And spenden day and night in dotarie,
Hammering their heads, musing on heavenly thing,
And whisper still of sorrow in their bed,
And done despise all love and lustie head:
Like to the curre, with anger well neere woode,
Who makes his kennel in the Oxes stall,
And snarleth when he seeth him take his foode,
And yet his chaps can chew no hay at all.
Borrill, even so it fareth now with thee,
And with these wisards of thy mysterie.
Sharpe is the thorne, full soone I see by thee,
Bitter the blossome, when the fruite is sower,
And early crook'd, that will a Camock bee,
Rough is the winde before a sodayne shower:
Pittie thy wit should be so wrong mislead,
And thus be guyded by a giddie head.
Ah foolish elfe, I inly pittie thee,
Misgoverned by thy lewd brainsick will:
The hidden baytes, ah fond thou do'st not see,
Nor find'st the cause which breedeth all thy ill:
Thou think'st all golde, that hath a golden shew,
And art deceiv'd, for it is nothing soe.
Such one art thou as is the little flie,
Who is so crowse and gamesome with the flame,
Till with her busines and her nicetie,
Her nimble wings are scorched with the same,
Then fals she downe with pitteous buzzing note,
And in the fier doth sindge her mourning cote.
Alas good man I see thou ginst to rave,
Thy wits done erre, and misse the cushen quite,
Because thy head is gray and wordes been grave,
Thou think'st thereby to draw me from delight:
What I am young, a goodly Batcheler,
And must live like the lustie limmeter.
Thy legges been crook'd, thy knees done bend for age,
And I am swift and nimble as the Roe,
Thou art ycouped like a bird in cage,
And in the field I wander too and froe,
Thou must doe penance for thy olde misdeedes,
And make amends, with Avies and with creedes.
For al that thou canst say, I will not let,
For why my fancie strayneth me so sore,
That day and night, my minde is wholy set
On jollie Love, and jollie Paramore:
Only on love I set my whole delight,
The summers day, and all the winters night.
That pretie Cupid, little god of love,
Whose imped wings with speckled plumes been dight,
Who striketh men below, and Gods above,
Roving at randon with his feathered flight,
When lovely Venus sits and gives the ayme,
And smiles to see her little Bantlings game.
Upon my staffe his statue will I carve,
His bowe and quiver on his winged backe,
His forked heads, for such as them deserve,
And not of his, an implement shall lacke,
And Venus in her Litter all of love,
Drawne with a Swanne, a Sparrow, and a Dove.
And under him Thesby of Babylon,
And Cleopatra somtime of renowne:
Phillis that died for love of Demophoon,
Then lovely Dido Queen of Carthage towne,
Which ever held god Cupids lawes so deare,
And been canoniz'd in Loves Calendere.
Ah wilfull boy, thy follie now I finde,
And hard it is a fooles talke to endure,
Thou art as deafe even as thy god is blinde,
Sike as the Saint, sike is the serviture:
But wilt thou heare a good olde Minstrels song,
A medicine for such as been with love ystong.
Borrill, sing on I pray thee let us heare,
That I may laugh to see thee shake thy beard,
But take heede Borrill that thy voyce be cleare,
Or by my hood thou'lt make us all afeard,
Or els I doubt that thou wilt fright our flockes,
When they shall heare thee barke so like a foxe.
Oh spightfull wayward wretched love,
Woe to Venus which did nurse thee,
Heavens and earth thy plagues do prove,
Gods and men have cause to curse thee.
Thoughts griefe, hearts woe,
Hopes paine, bodies languish,
Envies rage, sleepes foe,
Fancies fraud, soules anguish,
Desires dread, mindes madnes,
Secrets bewrayer, natures error,
Sights deceit, sullens sadnes,
Speeches expence, Cupids terror,
Lives slaughter, deaths nurse,
Cares slave, dotards folly,
Fortunes bayte, worlds curse,
Lookes theft, eyes blindnes,
Selfes will, tongues treason,
Paynes pleasure, wrongs kindnes,
Furies frensie, follies reason:
With cursing thee as I began,
Cursing thee I make an end,
Neither God, neither man,
Neither Fayrie, neither Feend.
Ah worthy Borrill, here's a goodly song,
Now by my belt I never heard a worse:
Olde doting foole, for shame hold thou thy tongue,
I would thy clap were shut up in my purse.
It is thy life, if thou mayst scolde and braule:
Yet in thy words there is no wit at all.
And for that wrong which thou to love hast done,
I will aveng me at this present time,
And in such sorte as now thou hast begonne,
I will repeat a carowlet in rime,
Where, Borrill, I unto thy teeth will prove,
That all my good consisteth in my love.
Come on good Batte, I pray thee let us heare?
Much will be sayd, and never a whit the near.
Love is the heavens fayre aspect,
Love is the glorie of the earth,
Love only doth our lives direct,
Love is our guyder from our birth,
Love taught my thoughts at first to flie,
Love taught mine eyes the way to love,
Love raysed my conceit so hie,
Love framd my hand his arte to prove.
Love taught my Muse her perfect skill,
Love gave me first to Poesie:
Love is the Soveraigne of my will,
Love bound me first to loyalty.
Love was the first that fram'd my speech,
Love was the first that gave me grace:
Love is my life and fortunes leech,
Love made the vertuous give me place.
Love is the end of my desire,
Love is the loadstarre of my love,
Love makes my selfe, my selfe admire,
Love seated my delights above.
Love placed honor in my brest,
Love made me learnings favoret,
Love made me liked of the best,
Love first my minde on vertue set.
Love is my life, life is my love,
Love is my whole felicity,
Love is my sweete, sweete is my love,
I am in love, and love in me.
Is love in thee? alas poore sillie lad,
Thou never couldst have lodg'd a worser guest,
For where he rules no reason can be had,
So is he still sworne enemie to rest:
It pitties me to thinke thy springing yeares,
Should still be spent with woes, with sighes, with teares.
Gramercy Borrill for thy company,
For all thy jestes and all thy merrie Bourds,
I still shall long untill I be with thee,
Because I find some wisdome in thy words,
But I will watch the next time thou doost ward,
And sing thee such a lay of love as never shepheard heard.