THE TOWNELEY PLAY OF NOAH
Towneley MS. (about 1475), ff. 76 ff.
The Towneley Miracles, so called because the manuscript belonged in recent times to the library of Towneley Hall in Lancashire, are edited by England and Pollard, E.E.T.S., 1897. The cycle is a composite one--for instance it includes a later form of the York play Harrowing of Hell (No. XVI, above)--but it is distinguished by a group of plays and interpolated scenes which seem to have been specially composed for representation at Wakefield. Formally this group is marked by the use of a peculiar nine-lined stanza, riming a a a a b c c c b, with central rimes in the first four lines. The rough vigour of the comic scenes is still more distinctive, and there can be little doubt that all are the work of one man. The specimen of his style most often reprinted is The Second Shepherd's Play, which has an original and purely secular comic plot. The Play of Noah is more typical of the English Miracle in its later development. This subject was always popular with early playwrights, for the Ark made a spectacle, and the traditional quarrels of Noah and his wife gave scope for contests in fisticuffs and rough raillery--the stuff of primitive comedy.
|NOE||PRIMUS FILIUS||PRIMA MULIER|
|DEUS||SECUNDUS FILIUS||SECUNDA MULIER|
|VXOR NOE||TERCIUS FILIUS||TERCIA MULIER|
1. Noe. MYGHTFULL God veray, Maker of all that is,
Thre persons withoutten nay, oone God in endles blis,
Thou maide both nyght and day, beest, fowle, and fysh,
All creatures that lif may wroght Thou at Thi wish,
As Thou wel myght;
The son, the moyne, verament, 5 Thou maide, the firmament,
The sternes also full feruent
To shyne Thou maide ful bright.