Here is a Summary and Stanza Wise Summary of the poem “After Blenheim” by Robert Southey. This would provide learners with a proper detail of the poem to comprehend it properly.
SUMMARY OF After Blenheim by Robert Southey
“After Blenheim” is a poem by Robert Southey that tells the story of a soldier who returns home after the Battle of Blenheim and recounts his experiences to his wife and child. The poem describes the horrors of war and the devastation it causes, both for the soldiers and for the civilians caught in the crossfire.
The soldier describes the carnage he witnessed, including the deaths of his comrades and the destruction of homes and villages. The poem ends with the soldier contemplating the futility of war and the suffering it causes.
The poem is critical of the glorification of war and the idea that it is heroic, instead it presents the war as a brutal, devastating and pointless.
STANZA WISE SUMMARY OF After Blenheim
SUMMARY OF After Blenheim STANZA-1
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.
The first stanza of “After Blenheim” by Robert Southey describes a peaceful summer evening. The setting is an old man named Kaspar’s cottage, where he is sitting outside in the sun with his grandchild, Wilhelmine, playing on the green grass nearby.
The imagery of the warm summer evening, the old man’s work being done and the child playing, sets a peaceful and idyllic tone to the beginning of the poem.
SUMMARY OF After Blenheim STANZA-2
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.
The second stanza of “After Blenheim” by Robert Southey describes Wilhelmine’s brother, Peterkin, who is also playing near a rivulet. He is seen rolling something large and round that he had found while playing there.
Wilhelmine notices this and goes to her brother to ask him what he had found, as it appeared to be large, smooth, and round.
The imagery of the child playing and finding something intriguing and mysterious along the rivulet adds an element of curiosity and intrigue to the peaceful setting described in the first stanza.
SUMMARY OF After Blenheim STANZA-3
Old Kaspar took it from the boy, Who stood expectant by; And then the old man shook his head, And, with a natural sigh, "'Tis some poor fellow's skull," said he, "Who fell in the great victory.
The third stanza of “After Blenheim” by Robert Southey, begins with the old man, Kaspar, taking the object found by Peterkin, from him. The boy stands expectantly beside him, curious about the object.
The old man examines the object and with a natural sigh, he shakes his head and tells the boy that it is a skull of a poor fellow who fell in the great victory (Battle of Blenheim). This stanza serves as a stark contrast to the peaceful and idyllic setting described in the first two stanzas.
It introduces a reminder of the reality of war and its devastating impact on human life. The old man’s natural sigh and his identification of the object as a skull, also suggest that he has seen such things before, and the war and its aftermath is still fresh in his mind.
SUMMARY OF After Blenheim STANZA-4
"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."
The third stanza of “After Blenheim” by Robert Southey describes old Kaspar’s reaction after he identifies the object found by Peterkin as a skull. He tells Peterkin that he finds them often in the garden, in the area around his cottage, and even when he goes to plough, the ploughshare turns them out.
He adds that many thousand men were slain in that great victory (Battle of Blenheim) and it is evident that the war had a devastating impact on the surrounding area and the battle still resonates in the memories of the people living there.
This stanza serves as a reminder of the brutal reality of war and its aftermath that continue to haunt the lives of the people long after the war has ended.
SUMMARY OF After Blenheim STANZA-5
"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."
In the fifth stanza of “After Blenheim,” the speaker, Old Kaspar, is describing the Battle of Blenheim, which was fought in 1704 and was a major victory for the English over the French. He mentions that many men were killed in the battle and that their bones can still be found in the area.
The poet also describes the destruction caused by the battle, with houses being burnt and many people being forced to flee. He also mentions that many children and babies died as a result of the conflict. Despite this, the speaker speaks positively about the battle, praising the Duke of Marlborough and Prince Eugene for their role in the victory.
However, when asked what good came from the battle, he is unable to answer, suggesting that the costs of the battle may have outweighed any benefits.
SUMMARY OF After Blenheim STANZA-6
"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.
In the sixth stanza of “After Blenheim,” Old Kaspar is continuing to describe the Battle of Blenheim. He states that the English were victorious over the French, but he is not entirely sure what the reason for the conflict was.
He states that he couldn’t make out the reason but everyone said it was a famous victory. This stanza suggests that while the speaker may be aware of the historical significance of the battle, he may not have a clear understanding of the political or strategic reasons for the conflict.
The stanza also implies that the speaker is relaying information that he has heard from others, rather than from firsthand knowledge.
SUMMARY OF After Blenheim STANZA-7
"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.
In the seventh stanza of "After Blenheim," Old Kaspar is describing the personal impact of the Battle of Blenheim on his own family. He states that his father lived near the battle site at the time, and that his home was burned to the ground by the English forces. As a result, he and his family were forced to flee and were left without a place to stay. This stanza highlights the human cost of war and the devastating impact it can have on individuals and communities. It also suggests that the speaker has a personal connection to the events of the battle, and that it has had a significant impact on his own life. The stanza also implies that Old Kaspar's father was not directly involved in the battle. It highlights the fact that wars are not just fought between the armies, but also on civilians who are caught in the crossfire.
SUMMARY OF After Blenheim STANZA-8
"With fire and sword the country round Was wasted far and wide, And many a childing mother then, And new-born baby died; But things like that, you know, must be At every famous victory.
In the eighth stanza of “After Blenheim,” Old Kaspar continues to describe the destructive impact of the Battle of Blenheim on the surrounding area and its inhabitants. He mentions that the countryside was devastated by fire and sword, and that many people, including childbearing mothers and new-born babies, died as a result.
The stanza also highlights the callous attitude of the speaker, who seems to accept the deaths of innocent civilians as an inevitable consequence of war, saying “things like that, you know, must be / At every famous victory.” This stanza highlights the human cost of war and the devastating impact it can have on individuals and communities.
It also implies that the speaker is aware of the scale of the destruction caused by the battle but doesn’t seem to be affected by it, suggesting that he may have become desensitized to the violence and death that wars bring.
SUMMARY OF After Blenheim STANZA-9
"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.
In stanza 9 of “After Blenheim,” the speaker describes the aftermath of a battle, specifically the sight of many thousands of bodies lying on the field, rotting in the sun.
The speaker notes that this is a “shocking” sight, but also implies that it is a necessary consequence of a famous victory. The tone of the stanza is matter-of-fact, suggesting that the brutal realities of war has resigned the speaker.
SUMMARY OF After Blenheim STANZA-10
"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.
In stanza 10 of “After Blenheim,” the speaker shifts to a conversation between a little girl named Wilhelmine and an adult. The girl expresses her disgust and moral condemnation of the battle that the adult describes as “great praise” for the Duke of Marlbro’ and Prince Eugene.
The adult’s response to the child is dismissive, saying “Nay… nay… my little girl,” and insists that it was “a famous victory.” This stanza highlights the contrast between the child’s innocent and humane perspective and the adult’s acceptance of the brutality and moral ambiguity of war.
It also implies that the adult is not willing to engage in a meaningful conversation about the morality of war, instead choosing to justify it as necessary for victory.
SUMMARY OF After Blenheim STANZA-11
"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."
In stanza 11 of "After Blenheim," the speaker continues the conversation between an adult and a child, this time with a child named Peterkin asking a question about the ultimate benefit or outcome of the battle that the adult praises as "great fight" won by the Duke. The adult's response is evasive and non-committal, saying "Why that I cannot tell" and again emphasizing that it was a "famous victory." This stanza highlights the theme of the poem, which is the disconnect between the celebration of military victory and the lack of understanding of its true cost and purpose. The child's question is a reflection of the moral and practical questions that the adult is unwilling or unable to answer, and the adult's response suggests that the true meaning and significance of the battle are irrelevant or unimportant to those who celebrate it.