Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. IV. Wordsworth to Rossetti
Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. IV. The Nineteenth Century: Wordsworth to Rossetti
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 here about;        20
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 ’t was 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.’        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 every body said,’ quoth he,        35
‘That ’t was 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 Marlbro’ won,
  And our good Prince Eugene.’
‘Why ’t was 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 ’t was a famous victory.’

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