The Battle Of Blenheim by Robert Southey

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"But 'twas A Famous Victory"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Blindheim (Anglicized to Blenheim) is a village on the north bank of the Danube. There, in 1704, the Duke of Marlborough led an army of allies to victory over the forces of Louis XIV, dealing a heavy blow to Louis' dream of a universal monarchy. In Southey's ironic poem, Old Kaspar, a peasant, discusses the battle with his grandchildren many years after the "famous victory." Thousands of bodies "Lay rotting in the sun," says Kaspar, while the peasants' fields and homes were "wasted far and wide." But alas for the ambition of princes–Kaspar has no idea of what the battle was all about. Stolidly, however, he accepts the inevitability of such bloodbaths and, since he represents the standard point of view, even attempts to justify them:

"And every body 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."