Fireworks Day

Also known as Guy Fawkes Day, and the Fifth of November. (As in, “Remember, remember . . . “)

Guy Fawkes is most know for being the one person caught in reference to the “Gunpowder Plot”, which was meant to blow up the British Parliament and thus restore a Catholic Monarch to the throne. Fawkes was tortured into describing the plot, and then carted off to execution.  However, before he could be hung, drawn and quartered he committed suicide by jumping from the gallows.

In defense of Catholic theology and reason, I must emphasize the point that Fakes was raised as in the Church of England. All of which clearly left poor Guy confused about right and wrong and intent versus consequence. Neither suicide nor murder have ever been condoned by us Papists. Or Anglicans, as far as I know. However, Guy, being as loopy as he must have been, truly believed that in destroying the only democratic element of British government he was ridding the world of tyrants.

To this day, the British celebrate the day Fawkes was captured with fireworks (gunpowder), although it is unclear if they are embracing the failure of the plot or the freedom attempted. This celebration used to be a ceremonial burning of a straw man (Guy), but has been mostly replaced by fireworks on the night of November 5th.

Sadly, today most American have only heard this day through the movie “V for Vendetta”.  I know that many of my friends like the movie for the philosophical and political views of tyranny  versus government/corruption that are portrayed. I, however, was underwhelmed (and rather disgusted,) with many of the ideas, portrayals, and approaches of the movie. In my opinion, it is far too grotesque, despairing, and abstract to touch on a real, human issues. But I am open to discussion about the movie, if you so desire,

But until then, the poem associated with November Fifth is as follows:

 English Folk Verse (c.1870)

            The Fifth of November

    Remember, remember!
The fifth of November,
The Gunpowder treason and plot;
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!
Guy Fawkes and his companions
Did the scheme contrive,
To blow the King and Parliament
All up alive.
Threescore barrels, laid below,
To prove old England’s overthrow.
But, by God’s providence, him they catch,
With a dark lantern, lighting a match!
A stick and a stake
For King James’s sake!
If you won’t give me one,
I’ll take two,
The better for me,
And the worse for you.
A rope, a rope, to hang the Pope,
A penn’orth of cheese to choke him,
A pint of beer to wash it down,
And a jolly good fire to burn him.
Holloa, boys! holloa, boys! make the bells ring!
Holloa, boys! holloa boys! God save the King!
Hip, hip, hooor-r-r-ray!

Advertisements

9 thoughts on “Fireworks Day

  1. The humor of the f-s. Weftminfter!
    “V for Vendetta” bothered me, too… ironically, because of the question of means and ends, which reflects back on poor Fawkes as well.

    I knew the first stanza of that rhyme, but I had no idea how very weird the rest of it was. Thanks for posting it! May I re-post to my blog?

    • Please reblog at will!

      V for Vendetta was incredibly painful to me for that very reason. The trickery and secrecy seemed extreme and just was evil as the government.

      What I found amusing about the modern British celebration is that they ceased villifying Fawkes and go as far as to set off all the gunpowder fireworks.

      • Thank you! 🙂

        I might have forgiven a lot, considering how oppressive the government was shown to be, but torturing someone in order to shape them into what you want them to be? That made me see V as no different from who he was fighting. >_<

        It is very quirkily British, isn't it.

    • Please reblog at will!

      V for Vendetta was incredibly painful to me for that very reason. The trickery and secrecy seemed extreme and just was evil as the government.

      What I found amusing about the modern British celebration is that they ceased villifying Fawkes and go as far as to set off all the gunpowder fireworks.

  2. Reblogged this on jubilare and commented:
    “Remember, remember! The fifth of November, the Gunpowder Treason and plot; I know of no reason why the Gunpowder Treason should ever be forgot!”

    The quirkiness of the history and celebration of this holiday fascinate me. Melpomene has some thoughts to share, as well as the whole rhyme, which I have never heard!

  3. I actually like “V for Vendetta” because of the implicit irony in the story–the rebellion can only achieve victory by committing crimes as grotesque as those committed by the dictators they seek to overthrow. I don’t know where the creators were going with that, though. Is it a story against vigilantism? Is it simply saying that all power corrupts and requires immoral means to achieve victory? In the end, that is pretty depressing. But it’s an interesting take to think about, even if I don’t agree.

    • “I don’t know where the creators were going with that, though.” That is part of my problem.
      I see where you are coming from, but I have a harder time separating possible interpretations from the intended one. I think the source material (which I have not explored) might explore these questions a lot better. The film left me feeling like the makers were trying to make a point, but only muddied the waters to the point where I was sickened. 😛
      I’m glad you got some useful brain food from it anyway, though!

      • Actually, every time I watch the movie, I’m plagued by the conviction that I’m trying to make sense out of something that doesn’t make sense. Like you, I suspect that the film possibly meant to explore various questions, but then didn’t. Because it ends on this happy note with everyone cheering and Evvy being all independent and stuff–and there’s really no indication that the movie recognizes any underlying ironies or problems. I still feel compelled to analyze the thing like it’s a coherent whole, though. I guess it just makes me feel better to think that the thing must make sense on some level I haven’t yet reached.

      • Because I haven’t read it, I can’t recommend or warn against the source material, but I do wonder if it makes more sense than the film. I certainly hope it does, for its own sake.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s