Why did Grandpa not answer Peterkin when he asked what came out of the war in the Battle Of Blenheim? What is the moral of the poem Battle Of Blenheim?

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Michael Ugulini eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Grandpa Kaspar did not answer the grandchild Peterkin in Robert Southey’s poem “The Battle of Blenheim”, when the grandchild asked what came out of the war because Kaspar was focusing more on what we would call today the “spin” about the war and this specific battle. He is emphasizing more “the great victory.”

Kaspar’s father’s abode was destroyed in the battle between the English and French. It was burned totally, to the ground. As a result, the father and mother and Kaspar (as a child) had to flee.

The poem is replete with the terrible consequences of war – its wastefulness and how this affects the people and the land. The irony is that war wreaks havoc on the victor and the vanquished alike. The victors, in their success do receive terrible consequences as well. The grandpa maybe is looking to shield Peterkin from this reality, since Peterkin is of a tender age. Maybe the grandpa wants to wait till the boy is more mature to reveal to him what war is really all about.

In addition, it is possible that Grandpa Kaspar doesn't really know what came out of the war. Maybe he feels nothing positive and constructive did come out of this war and that is also why he doesn’t provide an answer – or at least a suitable answer for Peterkin. Kaspar states concerning what came out of the war”

 "Why, that I cannot tell," said he,

"But 'twas a famous victory."

Again, he falls back on the aforementioned “spin” and belief prevalent in the community concerning the war that it indeed was a famous victory. That, in essence is his final answer.

The moral of the poem Battle of Blenheim is that there is no real rationale for destructive war among human beings and nations that should learn to get along. Grandpa Kaspar doesn’t even know what the English and French were actually fighting about. He says:

 “But what they fought each other for

I could not well make out;”

This is the moral of this brief story poem by poet Southey. It is a sad treatise on war this final thought in the poem.

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