Explain the destruction caused by war and the common man’s ignorance of its purpose as shown in Robert Southey’s poem After Blenheim? Or, Discuss Southey’s poem “After Blenheim” as an anti-war poem. Or, State clearly how the poet creates an atmosphere of devastation caused by war in the poem. Or, How was the country affected by the war?
Robert Southey’s ‘After Blenheim‘ is an anti-war poem. The poet has depicted the destruction that war can cause through a conversation about a past battle — the Battle of Blenheim. Skulls are found here and there in the former battlefield when people plough the field or the children play there — suggestive of the sheer reality of death of thousands of people in the war.
Old Kasper in the poem narrates how a lot of people were forced to flee from there as their houses were set to fire. The speaker Kasper himself experienced that misery when his father fled with him and his mother. And they were probably wandering on streets as they had no place to stay.
So with his wife and child he fled,
Nor had he where to rest his head.
A vast area of the countryside was wasted by the war with fire and swords. Many would-be mothers and children died in that horrific battle.
And many a childing mother then,
And new-born baby died;
And, when the war ended, it was a shocking sight; thousands of dead bodies lay there ‘rotting in the sun’. That is as inhuman as it can be.
Though the war caused so much destruction, common people were happy to praise the Duke of Marlbro and Prince Eugene for securing ‘a famous victory’. Even after many years, people like Kasper, who himself was a victim, continue to glorify that war. When he is asked to justify, he just has no answer to what good war can do. This is ironic and indicates the hard reality that people hail war and so called war-heroes though they are ignorant of the purpose it serves to the mankind. And, to say the truth, there isn’t any to say.