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After Blenheim – A Captivating Short Poem for Kids by Robert Southey

In the whimsical poem "After Blenheim" by Robert Southey, we encounter Old Kaspar and his curious grandchildren, Wilhelmine and Peterkin, as they stumble upon a mysterious round object by the rivulet. With innocent curiosity, they question Kaspar about the item, only to discover it is a grim reminder of the great victory at Blenheim - a poor fellow's skull lost in battle. Through the innocent eyes of the children, we witness a poignant conversation about war, victory, and its consequences. Old Kaspar recounts his personal losses from the war, juxtaposing the glorification of victory with the harsh reality of destruction and displacement. The children innocently question the true value of such victories, highlighting the confusion and ambiguity surrounding the aftermath of war. Through simple yet profound dialogue, the poem prompts reflection on the cost of victory and the true meaning of war, leaving both young and old readers pondering the price paid for military triumphs.

After Blenheim

It was a summer evening;
Old Kaspar's work was done,
And he before his cottage door
Was sitting in the sun;
And by him sported on the green
His little grandchild Wilhelmine.

She saw her brother Peterkin
Roll something large and round
Which he beside the rivulet
In playing there had found;
He came to ask what he had found
That was so large and smooth and round.

Old Kaspar took it from the boy,
Who stood expectant by;
And then the old man shook his head,
And with a natural sigh,
JTis some poor fellow's skull," said he,
'Who fell in the great victory.

"I find them in the garden,
For there's many here about;
And often when I go to plough
The ploughshare turns them out.
For many thousand men," said he,
'Were slain in that great victory."

"Now tell us what 'twas all about,"
Young Peterkin he cries;
And little Wilhelmine looks up
With wonder-waiting eyes;
"Now tell us all about the war,
And what they fought each other for?"

It was the English," Kaspar cried,
'Who put the French to rout;
But what they fought each other for
I could not well make out.
But everybody said," quoth he,
"That 'twas a famous victory.

"My father lived at Blenheim then,
Yon little stream hard by;
They burnt his dwelling to the ground,
And he was forced to fly;
So with his wife and child he fled,
Nor had he where to rest his head.

"They say it was a shocking sight
After the field was won;
For many thousand bodies here
Lay rotting in the sun;
But things like that, you know, must be
After a famous victory.

"Great praise the Duke of Marlbro' won
And our good Prince Eugene;"
- " Why 'twas a very wicked thing !"
Said little Wilhelmine;
"Nay-nay-my little girl," quoth he,
"It was a famous victory.

"And everybody praised the Duke
Who this great fight did win."
- "But what good came of it at last?”
Quoth little Peterkin:-
“Why that I cannot tell," said he,
"But 'twas a famous victory."

- Robert Southey


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