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
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!