After Blenheim

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  • Q1

    “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.”

    Q1. Why does Kaspar praise the Duke and the Prince?

    Q2. Do the children share the same opinion as their
    grandfather?

    Q3. What technique has been used by the poet to condemn
    war?

    Q4. What can you decipher about old Kaspar's character after
    reading the poem?

    Q5. Do you think Kaspar has been conditioned to a certain way
    of thinking?

    Marks:16
    Answer:

    1. Old Kaspar refers to the public praise for the great victory won by Duke of Marlborough at Blenheim.
    2. No, the children do not share the same opinion as their grandfather as they feel that war is a very “wicked thing”.
    3. ‘After Blenheim’ brings out the horrors of war in a very effective manner. He does not directly condemn war but rather presents the reader with illogical reasoning of an old man who tries to justify war to his grandchildren but in vain. The poet uses irony to condemn wars. The refrain of the poem “It was a famous victory” being repeated apparently innocently and ignorantly paints the war in sordid colors.
    4. Old Kaspar is a simpleton, who is easily conditioned to believe that something as abhorrent as war is acceptable. He is unmoved by his grandchildren’s loathing of war.
    5. In Robert Southey’s poem ‘After Blenheim’, the old Kasper, who presumably is a simpleton, is flummoxed when his innocent grandchildren enquire about the usefulness of war. He has heard others glorifying war and has picked the phrase, “It was a great victory.” The fact that he does not actually understand this phrase punctuates the horrors and uselessness of war. He cannot answer their one simple question and gives one conditioned response saying “It was a famous victory.”

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  • Q2

    “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.

    Q1. Who is the speaker? Who is he talking to and what is he
    telling about?

    Q2. What did the people say about the war?

    Q3. What is ironical about the speaker's comments?

    Q4. What is the rhyming scheme of the above stanza?

    Q5. Are their contrasting view points in the poem? If yes then
    what are they?

    Marks:16
    Answer:

    1. The speaker of the above lines is old Kaspar and he is telling his grandchildren, Peterkin and Wilhelmine about the 'great' victory of Blenheim.
    2. People said that it was a ghastly sight after the war was over. Thousands of bodies lay rotting in the sun.
    3. The old man’s assertion that the war was a “great victory” is quite conventional and unacceptable to the minds of the young who are yet not conditioned to the old ideology wherein the war was glorified.
    4. The rhyming scheme followed here is abcb.
    5. Poet brings out the difference between conventional and instinctive responses to war. The old man’s assertion that the war was a “great victory” is quite conventional and unacceptable to the minds of the young who are yet not conditioned to the old ideology wherein the war was glorified.

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  • Q3

    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.

    Q1. Who is Peterkin? What is he doing?

    Q2. Who is Wilhelmine? What did she see Peterkin doing?

    Q3. What does the grandfather tell the children about the
    object that Peterkin has found?

    Q4. What does the word ‘rivulet’ mean?

    Q5. Do you think that the author has condemned war in his
    poem ‘After Blenheim’?

    Marks:16
    Answer:

    1. Peterkin is Kaspar's young grandson. He is playing near the rivulet and finds something 'large and round'. His grandfather confirms that it is a human skull.
    2. Wilhelmine is Kaspar's young granddaughter. She is playing beside him in the green grass and sees her brother bringing something large and round, which is later revealed to be a human skull.
    3. The old man tells his grandchildren that Peterkin has found a human skull of some man who must have been killed in the 'great' victory of Blenheim.
    4. The word rivulet means a stream.
    5. ‘After Blenheim’ brings out the horrors of war in a very effective manner. He does not directly condemn war but rather presents the reader with illogical reasoning of an old man who tries to justify war to his grandchildren but in vain. The poet uses irony to condemn wars. The refrain of the poem “It was a famous victory” being repeated apparently innocently and ignorantly paints the war in sordid colors.

    View Answer