Poetic pyrotechnics



Tonight (or at some point over the next few days) you may be planning to wrap up warm against the bitter November chill to attend bonfire parties and firework displays. There is nothing quite like watching the flare of a stunning firework, is there? The America writer, Jack Kerouac, once wrote about ‘the fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centre-light pop and everybody goes ‘Awww!’ The shared-ness 0f the experience: people huddling together to gaze collectively at the sky; coupled with the ephemeral beauty of the fireworks themselves always makes for a sort of magic.


Perhaps this is why school children are often asked to write poems about fireworks. The dazzling colours and vociferous sounds are rich fruits in the minds of the young. Furthermore, the whole bloody history of the celebration – the brutal torture of Guy Fawkes and his conspirators for their treason – is strangely fascinating.


‘Remember remember the fifth of November / Gunpowder, treason and plot’ are possibly familiar lines to you; indeed you may have recited them at school in nursery-rhyme fashion! Few people know the following lines though, so they are reproduced here for you to enjoy…


Remember remember the fifth of November

Gunpowder, treason and plot.

I see no reason why gunpowder, treason

Should ever be forgot.


Guy Fawkes, ‘twas 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 catched

With a dark lantern and lighted match

Holler boys, holler boys, let the bells ring

Holler boys, holler boys, God save the King.


Read more about the history and traditions of 5th November here!


With thanks to Steve Clark, from Bibby Offshore in Aberdeen, for reminding me of this poem!


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Filed under Misc., Poetry

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