In the poem "The Battle of Blenheim" by Robert Southey, an old man tells his grandchildren about a famous battle. The poem is based on a real battle that took place in 1704 in which England, Austria, and the United Provinces fought against the French and Bavarians. The setting was beside the Danube River in Southern Germany. England and its allies won a decisive victory. It was the first time that the powerful army of Louis the XIV of France had been defeated in 50 years.
As the poem opens, Old Kaspar the grandfather has finished his work for the day and is sitting in front of his cottage as his grandchildren Wilhelmine and Peterkin play nearby. Peterkin finds a large round object beside a rivulet and brings it to his grandfather to find out what it is. Old Kaspar says that it is a man's skull and that he finds skulls sometimes in the garden and in the fields while he is plowing because this is the site of a great battle in which many people were killed.
The grandchildren insist that their grandfather should tell them about the battle and why it was fought. Old Kaspar replies that the English fought the French, but he cannot remember what they were fighting for, only that it was a great victory. At the time of the battle Kaspar's father lived in Blenheim, and he was forced to flee his home with his wife and child. They had nowhere to rest. As the battle waged throughout the countryside, many pregnant women and babies died. Old Kaspar adds that this always happens during famous victories.
Old Kaspar praises the Duke of Marlborough and Prince Eugene of Austria for winning. Wilhelmine his granddaughter says that it must have been very wicked, but the old man again asserts that it was a great victory. Peterkin asks what came of the battle in the end. Old Kaspar replies that he doesn't know. He only repeats for a final time that it was a great victory, as if winning justifies the horrible slaughter that took place.