Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Georgian Verse
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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Georgian Verse.  1909.
 
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,
That 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 my 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 ’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 Marlboro’ 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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