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Bonfire Night 5th November the Full Guy Fawkes Story and Poem

Updated on July 10, 2020
molometer profile image

Common sense becomes common sense once it is pointed out. Thanks for dropping in.

Remember remember the 5th of November

Celebrating the capture and subsequent hanging of one of the people involved in the plot to blow up UK Parliament may seem like an odd thing to do.

Using words like terrorist, bomb and explosion are frowned upon these days and will get you a lot of unwanted attention.

But every 5 th November in the UK and in many other countries around the world we celebrate Guy Fawkes Night or as it is known globally. Bonfire Night.

So what are we celebrating exactly? That he got caught, or that he tried to blow up the British government.

In recent years, the hacker group, Anonymous, have adopted the Guido mask as they see themselves as the modern day equivalent of Mr Fawkes and his merry men. Mr Fawkes picked up the nickname Guido, when working as a mercenary in Spain.

The world famous rhyme. Remember, remember the 5 th of November rhyme is chanted by millions. But do you know what it actually means?

Every year on this day, we collectively spend more money on fireworks, than third world nations spend on healthcare.

In some cases we 'are' financing these nations, as this is where most fireworks are now made. Health and safety laws in developed countries, being what they are.

The Gunpowder Plotters

The conspirators.
The conspirators. | Source


Have you seen this man. He cuts a dashing figure
Have you seen this man. He cuts a dashing figure | Source

Guy Fawkes Poem Poll

Did you know the full Guy Fawkes Poem?

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The Guy Fawkes Poems

It appears that we enjoy freezing ourselves to death, in the cold and usually wet British November weather.

Waiting to see if someone is going to blow themselves to kingdom come and burning Guy Fawkes.(1570 – 1606) in effigy has been a national pastime for 100's of years.

Many a child in England would be encouraged to go begging for a penny, with a Guy Fawkes effigy made from old pajamas and anything they could lay their hands.

This form of begging was completly acceptable and no one seemed to consider it odd that children would be encouraged to spend so much time making something to earn money and then throw it on the bonfire.


Many children in the UK and around the world know the opening few lines of this dark nursery rhyme without knowing exactly what they are singing about.

In the time before mass literacy, these rhymes formed a part of the oral history of the people. It was also a way of indoctrinating people into believing a particular viewpoint.

Most of the peasantry learned by these oral tradition. This learning took the form of songs, stories and rhymes.

Rhymes are often used in this way, to assist the illiterate to remember the details of the story.

The ease of learning a song or rhyme, helps to reinforce the details of the events.

In a world of non-readers, this oral method of passing on knowledge worked well, and still does in some countries, where illiteracy is still common.

The Full Guy Fawkes Poem has evolved over time as we can see from these two examples below.

This is one of the drawbacks of an oral tradition. People tend to embellish and develop the story in new directions. This of course also happens in written works.

Don't you Remember,
The Fifth of November,
'Twas Gunpowder Treason Day,
I let off my gun,
And made'em all run.
And Stole all their Bonfire away. (1742)

Cited by Ronald Hutton in The Stations of the Sun

The verses below are probably the best known version of the rhyme but how many people know the whole rhyme?

Remember remember the 5 th 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 Parliament

Three score barrels of powder below

Poor old England to overthrow

By God's providence he was catch'd

With a mark lantern and burning match

Holler boys holler boys, let the bells ring

Holler boys holler boys God save the King

This full version of the rhyme gives a lot more detail of the plotters and whose side the rhyme makers were on.

The 'Gunpowder Plot' conspirators were

Guy Fawkes, Thomas Bates, Christopher Wright, John Wright,

Thomas Percy, Robert Catesby, Thomas Wintour and Robert Wintour

Biggest firework ever

Story of Guy Fawkes

But what exactly were they up to and why should we remember them?

Guy Fawkes nickname 'Guido' was picked up whilst fighting for the Spanish (Catholics) in the 80 years’ war against the Dutch Republic (Protestants). He wasn't in the war for the whole time obviously,

The Protestant King James 1st of England was not to keen on Catholics. You know what’s coming don’t you.

King James 1st had stated that he did not want the Catholic religion, gaining a firmer foothold in England.

Those Catholics that already existed should not be molested. It was a time of persecution for Catholics.

James 1st' comments were interpreted by many, as an invitation to abuse the Catholics.

Guy Fawkes and his buddies decided that they had a right to protect themselves, and plotted to blow up the House of Lords, at Westminster Palace.

An Act of Treason. Well they got pretty close to achieving their aims. They had deposited the gunpowder in the basement (or under-croft), of the House of Lords. When they were about to light the blue touch paper and retire, on the 5 th of November 1605 AD.

The plotters were discovered and captured. Treachery was as common back then as now.

Someone had sent an anonymous note to the authorities, about the treason plotters. Fawkes was found with the stockpile of gunpowder and was arrested, tortured, found guilty and summarily tried, yes in that order.

I don’t think they water boarded him, but who knows?

Before the authorities had the opportunity to hang him however. He leapt from the scaffold and broke his own neck, so at least he wasn't alive for the drawing and quartering.

The drawing part is where they carefully hang you by the neck until you are almost dead.

Then they take you down to recover and maybe hang you some more. Then they cut open your guts and show you your own intestines.

Finally they chop you into four pieces and send your bits, to the four corners of the kingdom.

The reason for this practice was to send a message to the whole country. That this is what happens to you, if you plot treason. A bit like community service today for young offenders.

A deterrent if you like. So for generations the 5 th of November is still remembered.

Many people today, are unaware of the gruesome acts that inspired this annual celebration. Hopefully it all makes sense to you now.

King James 1st

This seasons bodkins are simply fab
This seasons bodkins are simply fab | Source

The Root Cause of the Treason and Plot

England had been going back and forth between Catholicism and Protestantism even since Henry the VIII (1491 - 1547) invented Protestantism.

Henry had wanted to divorce any wife, that failed to produce a male heir to the throne.

The Pope wouldn't allow divorce in those days, so Henry VIII decided to make up his own religion.

He set about robbing all the Catholic churches.

This act was known as the dissolution of the monasteries,(1536 & 1541) and would eventually lead to the English Civil War, and the dictatorship of Oliver Cromwell.

So the scene is set. England had been in religious turmoil for quite some time, and had all sorts of plagues and great fires of London to content with.

What they don't need is a bomb under parliament.

Fireworks today are Big Business

Combined global sales figures for fireworks are in excess of $350 million a year. The US’s 4 th of July celebrations account for huge sales annually.

The bulk of these fireworks are manufactured in China and India.

I wonder who our descendants will be burning in effigy in the future. I can guess at a few candidates.

Will we still be burning Guy Fawkes to celebrate his failed Gunpowder Plot of 1605, or some other modern terrorist, who knows?

There are so many to choose from these days.

House of Lords. London Site of the Plot!

westinister palace, London UK:
Palace of Westminster, Westminster, City of Westminster, London SW1A 0AA, UK

get directions

Who Was Guy Fawkes?

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    • molometer profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from United Kingdom

      Hi Mazzy Bolero,

      Do I detect a conspiracy theory, from the parliamentary side? Definitely.

      They were set up, stitched up and Guy Fawkes got strung up. And has been every year ever since. lol

    • Mazzy Bolero profile image

      Mazzy Bolero 

      8 years ago from the U.K.

      I think it was a set-up. Originally, the plotters rented a house near Parliament on the banks of the Thames and tried to dig a tunnel through. Unsurprisingly, it filled with water. They decided this was a sign from God that they shouldn't bother. Coincidentally - or not - one of them was then offered a cellar immediately beneath the Main Hall. Isn't this a bit fishy? They wanted to make an example and defeat the Catholics once and for all. Poor old Fawkes was tortured almost to death for refusing to give names which the Government already knew. Nasty all round - who was worse?

    • molometer profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from United Kingdom

      Thanks thost,

      It is surprising, just how dark those rhymes really are.

      Thanks for the vote up.

    • thost profile image


      9 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Great Hub, those old nursery rhymes are really dark. Vote up.

    • molometer profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from United Kingdom

      I hadn't thought about Guy Fawkes as a founder of a whole industry.

      Come to think of it Guy Fawkes, costumes, masks, fireworks, hmm!

      Treason and treachery seems like a good business lol

    • profile image

      seo gas 

      9 years ago

      This is a very interesting idea. You could interpret it that, Guy (Guido) Fawkes act of treason, spawned a whole industry. From fireworks to fancy dress costumes and masks. Not bad for one nights work?

    • molometer profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from United Kingdom

      I think you are probable right Leroy about the face masks. I didn't really make the connection until you mentioned it.

      Although the recent Wall St & London demos are using the Guy Fawkes mask their intentions were totally different I think you'll agree.

      Guido wanted to blow the crap out of King James 1 lol

    • molometer profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from United Kingdom

      I do miss season in Cape Town, it's just a different way of life all together isn't it.

      Everyday 'whats the weather? sunny and warm'.

      Meanwhile back in Blighty; thanks to the genius who inventing central heating lol

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Like crazy!!! I go back home in just over a week. Can't wait for the African sunshine to set on my skin. :)

    • molometer profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from United Kingdom

      Hi Leroy,

      Infamy more like.

      That would make sense, although I am vaguely familiar with the movie.

      The masks I would assume symbolically represent anti government sentiment.

      Guido tried to blow up parliament and the protestors are wearing the mask to remind politicians that people 'do' have power.

      The protestors are probable well educated and may in fact know the true story of Guy Fawkes and have adopted the mask as a symbol to rally too. Plus it's a little scary and their identity is hidden.

    • leroy64 profile image

      Brian L. Powell 

      9 years ago from Dallas, Texas (Oak Cliff)

      A sort of immortality. I am sure that was not his goal. His masks, from the Vendetta movie, are showing up at the Occupy Rallies here in the US. That is why I asked that particular question.

    • molometer profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from United Kingdom

      Hi Leroy,

      Ironically it is celebrating his capture and execution, hence the guy that is burned on the millions of fires around the globe annually, to this day.

      Most people will not know this fact as it's meaning has been lost in the mists of time.

      Weird hey?

      Thanks for commenting.

    • leroy64 profile image

      Brian L. Powell 

      9 years ago from Dallas, Texas (Oak Cliff)

      Interesting. Sorry, I am not clear about something. Is Guy Fawkes day honoring Guy Fawkes, or is it honoring the events surrounding him?

      FYI - The US still has a death penalty for treason. It is nearly impossible to get a conviction for treason; but, the penalty is still on the books.

    • molometer profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from United Kingdom

      Hi Majadez,

      Glad you came over and liked what you read.

      It is surprising when we take a fresh look at the commonplace how uncommon they are.

      Nursery rhymes are a perfect example.

      What seems an innocent little song contains specific information. This oral tradition is still alive in some countries.

      Missing SA?

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      When I was growing up I really didn't understand what this holiday was all about. I just remember that there were always fireworks. I must admit that I only really got the background when I watched "V For Vendetta". That was a good movie.

      It's a shame that due to the abuse of the use of fireworks in SA, they are now illegal for personal use.

      The history behind "Ring a ring a roses" shocked me. We used to play that one in nursery school too. I never quite understood what it was about. I thought that the posies made somebody sneeze...

      I always learn from your hubs. ;)

    • molometer profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from United Kingdom

      Ha ha Not very subtle hey Alastar, It always astonishes me how many death threats the President gets (any president) runs into the hundreds I understand.

      Glad you liked the Guy Fawkes Story. The new info only came to light when I was researching it. A story I had known all my life suddenly was quite different . Don't ya just love hubpages? Thanks for dropping in and leaving your comment. I'd be interested to hear more about the "money bomb" sounds positively explosive lol.

    • Alastar Packer profile image

      Alastar Packer 

      9 years ago from North Carolina

      Anonymous notes have spoiled many a party. Very fine, succinct Hub on Guy Fawkes molometer. Oh, here's one from across the pond: back in '08 some radio stations were having what they called a 'money bomb' donation drive for a presidential candidate on Nov.5th. The opposition called it a veiled reference to Guy Fawkes day in England! How dare the subversives..LOL.

    • molometer profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from United Kingdom

      Thanks for the visit and votes. It's weird what we celebrate. South Africa is stunning isn't it hey?

    • Faceless39 profile image

      Kate P 

      9 years ago from The North Woods, USA

      Rated up, useful, funny, and interesting. Well-written, entertaining hub with lots of history! A very strange event to celebrate for hundreds of years, in my opinion. And what's up with the Guy Fawkes masks? He's surely become a martyr. Thanks for writing this. PS- re: your profile, I lived in South Africa as well 99-04. Peace! :)

    • molometer profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from United Kingdom

      Thanks Linda.

      Your right we should know what we are really celebrating. Burning effigies is a bit medieval isn't it.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Very good hub, we should all know why we celebrate these things.

    • molometer profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from United Kingdom

      They were grim times indeed.

      The way they used to dispatch people was pretty gruesome.

      Imagine the poor people that had to do the dirty deeds. Stressful or what?

      Thanks for the visit and votes.

    • Seeker7 profile image

      Helen Murphy Howell 

      9 years ago from Fife, Scotland

      Fascinating hub on good old Guido Fawkes - most of my family are Catholic and most agree this guy was a nutter! But I guess that was the times they lived in!

      That was a new one to me that Guido jumped off the scaffold! Can't say I blame him. Imagine getting drawn and quartered while you're still alive!!! Yuck and just a wee bit painful I would think!

      Anyway, great hub. I really enjoyed getting a refresher on the Fawkes plotters. Voted up + awesome!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      It's a hoot mon

    • molometer profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from United Kingdom

      Hi Hubert,

      I can think of a few too lol. Another funny thing I found out while researching this hub was that although the death penalty in the UK was abolished in 1969.

      The death penalty for treason was only abolished in the UK in 1998. How's that for a freaky fact?

      I bet many people didn't know that. I didn't either?

      Ain't history great lol Gruesome.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Awesome. I didn't realize that I had grown up celebrating death by hanging, torture and plague. So comforting to know that our societies pleasures are based upon such noble things. I think? I would hesitate to suggest a future honorable guest of a burning although a few come to mind.

    • molometer profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from United Kingdom

      Glad to be of service.

    • SwiftFamily profile image


      9 years ago from Rayle, GA

      Wow... thank you for the lesson. You have opened my eyes to some things!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Awesome hub, I never knew the full rhyme. Thank you! My life is now complete.



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