The Battle of Blenheim

Original Text: 
Morning Post (London, Aug. 9, 1798).
1It was a summer evening,
2    Old Kaspar's work was done,
3And he before his cottage door
4    Was sitting in the sun,
5And by him sported on the green
6    His little grandchild Wilhelmine.
7She saw her brother Peterkin
8    Roll something large and round,
9Which he beside the rivulet
10    In playing there had found;
11He came to ask what he had found,
12    That was so large, and smooth, and round.
13Old Kaspar took it from the boy,
14    Who stood expectant by;
15And then the old man shook his head,
16    And, with a natural sigh,
17"'Tis some poor fellow's skull," said he,
18    "Who fell in the great victory.
19"I find them in the garden,
20    For there's many here about;
21And often when I go to plough,
22    The ploughshare turns them out!
23For many thousand men," said he,
24    "Were slain in that great victory."
25"Now tell us what 'twas all about,"
26    Young Peterkin, he cries;
27And little Wilhelmine looks up
28    With wonder-waiting eyes;
29"Now tell us all about the war,
30    And what they fought each other for."
31"It was the English," Kaspar cried,
32    "Who put the French to rout;
33But what they fought each other for,
34    I could not well make out;
35But everybody said," quoth he,
36    "That 'twas a famous victory.
37"My father lived at Blenheim then,
38    Yon little stream hard by;
39They burnt his dwelling to the ground,
40    And he was forced to fly;
41So with his wife and child he fled,
42    Nor had he where to rest his head.
43"With fire and sword the country round
44    Was wasted far and wide,
45And many a childing mother then,
46    And new-born baby died;
47But things like that, you know, must be
48    At every famous victory.
49"They say it was a shocking sight
50    After the field was won;
51For many thousand bodies here
52    Lay rotting in the sun;
53But things like that, you know, must be
54    After a famous victory.
55"Great praise the Duke of Marlbro' won,
57"Why, 'twas a very wicked thing!"
58    Said little Wilhelmine.
59"Nay... nay... my little girl," quoth he,
60    "It was a famous victory.
61"And everybody praised the Duke
62    Who this great fight did win."
63"But what good came of it at last?"
64    Quoth little Peterkin.
65"Why that I cannot tell," said he,
66    "But 'twas a famous victory."


56] Prince Eugene: François Eugene de Savoie-Carignan, a brilliant general who aided Marlborough in defeating the Bavarians and French at Blenheim, Bavaria, August 13, 1704. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
J. D. Robins
RPO Edition: 
2RP.2.143; RPO 1996-2000.