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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
The Battle of Blenheim
By Robert Southey (1774–1843)
 
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        5
His little grandchild Wilhelmine.
 
She saw her brother Peterkin
  Roll something large and round,
Which he beside the rivulet
  In playing there had found;        10
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,        15
  And with a natural sigh,—
“’Tis some poor fellow’s skull,” said he,
“Who fell in the great victory.
 
“I find them in the garden,
  For there’s many hereabout;        20
And often when I go to plow,
  The plowshare turns them out:
For many thousand men,” said he,
“Were slain in that great victory.”
 
“Now tell us what ’twas all about,”        25
  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.”        30
 
“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,        35
“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;        40
So with his wife and child he fled,
Nor had he where to rest his head.
 
“With fire and sword the country round
  Was wasted far and wide;
And many a childing mother then,        45
  And new-born baby, died:
But things like that, you know, must be
At every famous victory.
 
“They say it was a shocking sight
  After the field was won;        50
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 Marlborough won,        55
  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,        60
 
“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;        65
“But ’twas a famous victory.”
 
 
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