Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Remember, Remember the Fifth of November


                   "The Fifth of November" English Folk Verse (c.1870)
                                                              (Found here)

    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!

^Poem says it all, right? Or do I need to explain myself?


Explain myself, it is.

Ever seen V for Vendetta? That's a movie (obviously) that mined its plot from the failed Gunpowder Plot of 1605 (PLOT, see what I did there?). The Gunpowder Plot was an anarchist/Roman Catholic conspiracy to blow up the Protestant government of the time, which included King James I, his wife and son, and all of Parliament. However, Guy Fawkes, one of the plot's members, was caught by the gunpowder stockpile, allegedly with a match in his hand, and what would have been one of the most devastating terrorist attacks of all time was averted. Imagine how the USA would celebrate 9/11 had we stopped it before it happened...


Remember, remember the 5th of November.

That's why the United Kingdom celebrates Guy Fawkes Day/Bonfire Night/Guy Fawkes Night, on this day every year. To the British, this holiday is as significant as July 4th is to Americans, with some of the resonance of Pearl Harbor and 9/11 thrown in. Festivities include fireworks, bonfires, iconic Guy Fawkes masks, and the burning of Mr. Fawkes in effigy.


How, you might ask, being American, do I even know about all this? Well. When I was younger and living in Africa, many of my family's missionary neighbors, coworkers, and friends were from the United Kingdom. It followed then, that on every 5th of November, we constructed bonfires of sizes that would make Smokey the Bear cringe, hid a box of fireworks in the pile for shock-and-awe, and burned that nasty Fawkes guy time and time again.


It sounds a little terrible, I'll give you that, but I have such fond memories of this holiday. I love the spirit and aesthetic of it. It's very much a light-up-the-darkness/stop-the-evil-men-in-their-tracks celebration of justice and averted crisis. It's a simultaneously sassy and relief-filled holiday. Even after all these years.

Being in America now, however, I've had to be a bit more creative about celebrating. This year I treated myself to Nadine Brandes's YA historical fantasy book Fawkes, which I Highly recommend. 5/5 Stars.

Brandes uses the allegories of color magic, masks, and a spreading stone plague to suss out the Roman Catholic/Protestant tensions of 1650. Our main character Thomas Fawkes is the (fictional) son of Guy Fawkes, and, terminally ill with the plague, he is turning into stone. Guy Fawkes and a band of conspirators believe that if they kill the king, the curse that is the plague will end. Thomas must decide what he believes, why, and how far he'll take his convictions. It's fun. It's thought-provoking. Poignant in places. Colorful in a great many ways. I started it last night and finished it this morning, and I will say, I haven't loved an allegory so much since The Chronicles of Narnia. You should check it out.

As far as further celebrations, my sister, Liz and I have some stuff planned. And by stuff I mean, we plan to light up the grill and cook some pork chops and then cook some Guy Fawkes. And then we will eat the pork chops and stomp on the ashes of Guy Fawkes, and we will probably do all this on Instagram Live for your amusement somewhere between 9 and 10 PM; so here's a link to my Insta, if you don't currently follow me, and don't want to miss out on this action: abbypaulielibby.

In other news, today, November 5th, 2019 is the Release Date AKA Book Birthday of not one, but two of my most anticipated releases of The Whole Year. These are:

The Toll by Neal Shusterman, finale in the Arc of the Scythe trilogy, which I HIGHLY recommend.
And Call Down the Hawk by Maggie Stiefvater, first book in the Dreamer trilogy, spin-off to the Raven Cycle, which I AdoreSoMuchICan'tStandIt.


In short, between Guy Fawkes festivities and book releases, I have absolutely no chill today. NO CHILL. I expect it will be a November 5th to remember. *Remember*

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