Saturday, November 04, 2006

Guy Fawkes Day

I don't recall where I used to hear it.

Remember, remember the fifth of November,
Gunpowder Treason and Plot,

It had a beat and you could dance to it. It stuck in my head and I'd make up my own rhymes around it. I had no idea what it was about until I saw "V for Vendetta" and did a bit of reading.

Queen Elizabeth was not fond of Catholics. Truth be told they weren't popular with anyone back in the early 1600's. Religious oppression was brutal. When she died and King James (I of England, IV of Scotland) took the throne they hoped he would be more merciful since his mother, Mary Queen of Scots, was Catholic.
He wasn't. If anything he was more brutal.
So Guy Fawkes and a team of others decided to blow up Parlament. With the King dead Princess Elizabeth (age 9) would become the Catholic head of state. Alas, one of the members of the conspiracy was bothered by his conscience and ratted Guy out. So there he was in the tunnels under Parlament, barrels of gunpowder everywhere, when the King's guard shows up and arrests him.

You can view him as a religious terrorist or you can view him as someone fighting the inevitable horror when church and state combine.

Here's the whole original poem. The end has been dropped in modern telling because of the Catholic bashing.

Remember, remember the fifth of November,
Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I see no reason why gunpowder treason
should ever be forgot.

Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes,'twas his intent
to blow up the King and the Parliament.
Three score barrels of powder below,
Poor old England to overthrow:
By God's providence he was catch'd
With a dark lantern and burning match.

Holloa boys, holloa boys, make the bells ring.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, God save the King!
Hip hip hoorah!

A penny loaf to feed the Pope.
A farthing o' cheese to choke him.
A pint of beer to rinse it down.
A faggot of sticks to burn him.
Burn him in a tub of tar.
Burn him like a blazing star.
Burn his body from his head.
Then we'll say ol' Pope is dead.

Hip hip hoorah!
Hip hip hoorah!

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