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Saturday, November 5, 2011

Number 296: A Penny For the Guy "Remember Remember"

Traditional Guy Fawkes Rhymes

Remember, Remember

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

I see no reason why Gunpowder Treason should ever be forgot.
Guy Fawkes, t’was his intent to blow up King and Parliament.

Three score barrels were laid below to prove old England’s overthrow;
By God’s mercy he was catch’d with a dark lantern and lighted match.

Holloa boys, holloa boys, let the bells ring.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, God save the King!

Hip hip hoorah!
-- Traditional

AND (often added):

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 hoorah!

-- Traditional

And another version:

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!

-- Traditional

Here's another:

Remember, remember the fifth of November
It's Gunpowder Plot, we never forgot
Put your hand in your pocket and pull out your purse
A ha'penny or a penny will do you no harm
Who's that knocking at the window?
Who's that knocking at the door?
It's little Mary Ann with a candle in her hand
And she's going down the cellar for some coal

Sometimes this gets added:

We come a Cob-coaling for Bonfire time,
Your coal and your money we hope to enjoy.
Fal-a-dee, fal-a-die, fal-a-diddly-i-do-day.
For down in yon' cellar there's an owd umberella
And up on yon' cornish there's an owd pepperpot.
Pepperpot! Pepperpot! Morning 'till night.
If you give us nowt, we'll steal nowt and bid you good night.
Up a ladder, down a wall, a cob o'coal would save us all.
If you don't have a penny a ha'penny will do.
If you don't have a ha'penny, then God bless you.
We knock at your knocker and ring at your bell
To see what you'll give us for singing so well.

Still, some say this:

A penny loaf to feed the Pope
A farthing o' cheese to choke him.
A pint of beer to rinse it down.
A fagot 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 hoorah!

--All versions traditional variations

Hap Notes: It's Guy Fawkes Day so bonfires and fireworks are the order of the day in Great Britain. Before Guy Fawkes, the word "guy" meant to lead or referred to a rope. After Guy Fawkes, the word "guy"first started to take on the characteristics of how we now use it, in reference to a person or group of people like "you guys" or that guy.

In 1605 Guy Fawkes was one of a group of Catholic conspirators who wanted to get the Protestant King James I off the throne (or any other Protestant who would take the throne- it was only slightly personal and mostly religious.) It was planned that a bunch of gunpowder would be lit to explode under the House of Parliament when James I was in attendance and take out the lot, more or less. The conspirators leased a room which was close to the House of Lords and from which they could tunnel under the legislative building. A full 36 barrels of gunpowder was smuggled into this room.

Fawkes was charged with guarding it, at some point he was going to light the fuse and then run like hell, escaping across the Thames river. Word of the conspiracy leaked out (one member of Parliament, Lord Monteagle, was warned in a letter to stay away from the building) the conspirators were aware of this, the servant of Monteagle told them about the letter, but they felt it would be dismissed as a hoax. And it would have been. Except. Monteagle was sort of freaked out by the letter and told King James I, who, also a little freaked, sent some men to investigate around the Parliament building.

The gunpowder was hidden under piles of coal and firewood. Fawkes, in the early morning hours of November 5, was caught coming out of the cellar and arrested. The piles of gunpowder and flammables were found and Fawkes found himself in the soup. (one always wonders why he was leaving. Bathroom break? Time for a smoke? A quick pint? A breath of fresh air?)

Just a quick word about Fawkes. Born in York in 1570, he later converted to Catholicism and fought in the Eighty Years War on the side of Catholic Spain. He often signed his name "Guido Fawkes" and, indeed, he did so when a confession was tortured out of him by James I's men. Fawkes, when asked what he was doing in the cellar of Parliament, spat out, ""to blow you Scotch beggars back to your native mountains." Fawkes, until his final tortures, often spoke French to his captors, leading James to believe he was French. The conspirators hoped that Catholic Spain would help them but they would not.

Fawkes, especially to British children of the last several hundred years, was a figure of some dark and evil glamor. Clad like a gentleman, he reputedly answered his inquisitors with his head high and a bright wit. He gleams with evil, swashbuckling, rebellious dark magic. I don't know that British children see him like this now but for several hundred years he had this evil charming enchantment around his story.

Fawkes stoicism in the face of torture was much admired, even by James I. Have you ever heard or seen the expression" et sic per gradus ad ima tenditur "? It means, "and by degree proceeding to the worst." They started out torturing Fawkes with manacles, then eventually the rack. He was so beat up that when he climbed the scaffold for his hanging he could barely walk. He ended up giving out some conspirators names and signing a confession. It is said he suffered much in the way of torture, that it would take much to bow a bright and difficult and proud man.

He was found guilty and his sentence was to be hanged and then drawn and quartered. The actual sentence read that the conspirators should be "put to death halfway between heaven and earth as unworthy of both". Their genitals would be cut off and burnt before their eyes, and their bowels and hearts removed. They would then be decapitated, and the dismembered parts of their bodies displayed so that they might become "prey for the fowls of the air". Fawkes avoided the torture of being even remotely conscious of this by jumping from the gallows and breaking his neck. His corpse was still drawn and quartered and his body parts were distributed throughout the land. (Um...eww! Seriously? Eww.)

Lest one get too romantic about Fawkes and his compatriots, I suppose it should be pointed out that their gunpowder explosion would have killed hundreds of people; in addition to killing off some spoiled inbred aristocracy it would have also killed dozens of serving people and working class folks who labored in the building as well. Neither cool nor noble, that. Fawkes, as he climbed the ladder leading to his death, asked for forgiveness from the king and God. Fawkes, by the way, was no means the leader of this conspiracy, he was just the one caught.

After the whole thing, the people in London were encouraged to celebrate the king's escape from this assassination plot with fireworks and bonfires. It was actually endorsed by Parliament as a day of thanksgiving and was officially a holiday until 1859. In the course of the celebrations, many are burned in effigy including the Pope, and sometimes, whomever was in power at the time (like Margaret Thatcher). Fawkes is most particularly burned in effigy, though. Children go from house to house collecting clothes for their bonfire effigy, begging for old clothes or a penny to buy newspapers and various items to fill out or finish their effigy. Then the effigies are burned in the bonfire.

In recent years, the movie "V is For Vendetta" has brought Fawkes to the forefront. The movie (and comic book series by Alan Moore and David Lloyd) is about an ailing society and a group of freedom fighters called Anonymous and an enigmatic fellow," V", who all wear Guy Fawkes masks. The mask has consequently been used by a variety of groups from Occupy Wall Street to anti-Scientology protests.

All this information on Fawkes may seem like historical trivia but it will come in handy for understanding a great deal of literature, not the least of which is T.S. Eliot's 'The Hollow Men". Here's a good annotated version of it:

It's Saturday so here are our cartoons and music and other assorted amusing bits of junk:

This pretty much explains the day:

Here's the BBC's take on it:

Here's Cat Face on Guy Fawkes Day:

Here's Greg from We are Klang on cBBC (for kids- it's great though):

Did you see the Colbert Report with the Guy Fawkes mask?:

Here's Green On Red with "The Ballad of Guy Fawkes":

Here's the Krewmen with "Guy Fawkes":

John Lennon mentions today's poem in his song "Remember":

Here's a bit of The Penny Dreadfuls take on Guy Fawkes:

Here's Big Jim McBob and Billy Saul Hurok with the Farm Film Report:

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