Sometimes, The Wheel is on Fire

Sometimes, The Wheel is on Fire

Friday, November 5, 2010

Misremembering

I want to apologize. Last year, in my Guy Fawkes Day post,1 I misquoted the traditional rhyme for this day (which you may also recognize as the opening lines to V for Vendetta). Here's what I wrote:
Remember, remember the fifth of November,
The gunpowder treason and plot.
Something something something something
Should ever be forgot.
So it turns out my memory of the lyrics was a little off. Nor was my explanation entirely accurate, seeing how it was culled from Wikipedia. Anyway, thanks to new information from a reputable source,3 I can now present to you the original rhyme:
Remember, remember the fifth of November,
The gunpowder trees, onion plot.
I see no Rhys in the gunpowder trees, and
Should Everard be for Gott?
I'll break this down line by line, so it's easier to understand.
Remember, remember the fifth of November
This one's obvious: Remember the fifth letter of November. Remember M. There is some conjecture as to whether M was the nickname for Sir Francis Tresham (the man some say wrote the anonymous letter that averted Parliament's destruction), or if it simply stands for Monteagle (a.k.a. William Parker, the 4th Baron of Monteagle, who received the letter). Either way, thanks to this line, both men shall always be remembered.
The gunpowder trees, onion plot.
This rumor has never been proven, but it is said that prior to their failed attack, the conspirators stored their gunpowder in a group of hollowed-out trees next to a plot of land where one of the men grew onions. This onion patch acted as an excellent landmark for them.
I see no Rhys in the gunpowder trees, and
Rhys is Rhys ap Gruffydd, a leader in uprisings in 12th century Wales. Historians believe this line was inserted into the rhyme by the Welsh to tout that no Welshmen were among the conspirators, in the hope Wales would be held in higher regard by the rest of Britain. It didn't work.

And finally...
Should Everard be for Gott?
Sir Everard Digby, one of the conspirators, won some supporters with his eloquent defense in court, and they believed he should not be given over to Gott (or God, in German). Of course, that didn't stop him from being hanged, drawn and quartered.

So, there you have it. You can finally recite the Guy Fawkes Day rhyme as it was always meant to be said. I'm glad I could help.


1 In which I managed to link Fawkes and The Goonies together. No joke. It's in the second footnote.
2 Not this second footnote. The footnote in last year's post.
3 As opposed to Cooks Source, which we should definitely oppose, since it is about as far from reputable as you can get. (By the way, the "reputable source" I mentioned is my brain.)

7 comments:

  1. Thanks for explaining this, Nate. I saw that rhyme pop up twice on Facebook and had no idea what it meant. You have provided an invaluable service here. Thank you.

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  2. I think I like the pop version better. =) You know, somehow after we talked about this at lunch (even going so far as to recite the rhyme), I STILL managed to forget the fifth of November and watched something else instead?

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  3. You're welcome, Jeffrey. If there's one thing you can count on from my blog it's that I will always give you the truth. (It may be hidden amongst a slew of lies, but it'll be in there.)

    And Jen, let me guess. Instead, you just watched V.

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  4. i dunno, i think i'm parital to the "something something something something" line

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  5. As am I, Falen. Don't tell anyone, but that's rather why I came up with this post. I wanted to share it once more...

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  6. Thanks for the comment on my blog Nate. I stopped by quick to follow yours. Be back soon.

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  7. Interesting analysis. Thanks Nate!

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