July Celebrations

It must have been about ten years ago that I, in whimsical mood, set pen to paper and produced (what I thought was) some humorous verse:

Fourth of July!
The fireworks fly
And go off with a ruddy gurt bang in the sky.
Independence Day, Independence Day,
The day the British went away
'Cause they'd got fed up and would rather fight the French
Who lived much closer.
Juillet Quatorze
You'd best stay indoors
Or risk getting guillotined down by the poor.
Show them cold steel!
Storm the Bastille!
Put 'em on the creaking tumbril!
Vive la République!
Play loud music!
And knit all their names in to a nice wooly scarf
That you can give to cousin Jasper
At Christmas.

Notes de l'auteur:

  • "ruddy gurt" is dialect (South West England) and may be interpreted as "big".
  • In my original version, the British decided to fight the Germans, which was a bit of an historical inaccuracy; the US Declaration of Independence was in 1776 – Britain didn't go to war with Germany until 1914. Fighting the French is also an historical inaccuracy – the Napoleonic Wars weren't to start for another 24 years, but I claim a) what's 24 years between friends? b) poetic license and c) failing history 'O' level at school.
  • Le Quatorze (14th) Juillet is Bastille Day in France – see this Wikipedia article for details.
  • "Guillotined down" is poetic license – the guillotine wasn't a portable weapon to be wielded as might be implied from this line.
  • Storm the Bastille – if you don't know what this is, you didn't read the Wikipedia article above.
  • Tumbril: a type of cart used to convey executees to the guillotine.
  • Knitting: refers to Madame Defarge in Charles Dickens' "Tale of Two Cities", who sat by the guillotine knitting the names of all those who died in the name of the Republic into her needlework.
  • Notes de l'auteur: French for author's notes.

Happy 4th July to all my American readers.