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AFTER BLENHEIM , CLASS -IX & X ICSE

ROBERT SOUTHEY

QS – 1Read the extract given below and answer the questions

that follow:

            And then the old man shook his head,

            ————————————————–

            “Who fell in the great victory”.

i)Who was the old man? Who else were with him? Where were they?

Ans. The old man is kaspar, a German who was a victim of the most famous battle that took place in the German village of Blindheim in the war of the Spanish succession.

His grandson Peterkin and his granddaughter Wilhelmine were with him.

Kaspar was sitting in the before his cottage door. His granddaughter Wilhelmine was beside him playing in the field and his grandson Peterkin wasplaying near a small stream.

ii)Why did the old man shake his head? Who found the skull?

Ans. The skull found by Peterkin reminded Kasparof the horror of the war that took place in Blenheimwhen he was a mere child. The memories of thathorrific war mode Kaspar shake his head.

The skull was found by Peterkin, the grandson of Kaspar.

iii)Where was the skull found? Why does the speakersay that the skull was of some ‘poor’ fellow?

Ans. The skull was found near a rivulet where Kaspar’sgrandson Peterkin was playing.

            The skull found by Peterkin belonged to someinnocent war victim who was killed in the battle that took place in the Southern Germany village, Blenheim. For this reason, the speaker or Kaspar says that the skull was of some ‘poor’ fellow.

iv)How common were the skulls there? At which place many of them could be found?

Ans.  Very often the skulls are found when Kaspar ploughs the soil. The ploughshare quite often turnsout the skulls.These skulls are found quite often in the garden of Kaspar when he ploughs the soil.

v)Which victory is referred to in the extract? Who was responsible for the victory?

Ans. The extract refers to the victory achieved in the year 1704 by England’s Duke of Marlborough andSavoy’s Prince Eugene in the most famous battlein the war of the Spanish succession. This famousbattle was fought in Blenheim, a village in Southern Germany.

QS – II.            Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow:

‘Now tell us what twasall about all about,

 ——————————————————-

And what they fought each other for’.

i)Which topic is being discussed in the extract?Who were Peterkin and Wilhelmine? Whom was

Peterkin questioning?

Ans. In the extract the most famous war of the Spanish succession fought in Blenheim, a village in Southern Germany is being discussed.Peterkin and Wilhelmine were the grand children of old Kasper.

Peterkin was questioning, Kaspar, his grandfather who was a victim of the famous battle ofBlenheim.

ii)In the context of the poem, what special significance do the adjectives ‘young’ and ‘little’ have?

Ans. In the poem the adjectives ‘young’ and ‘little’ describe the two grand children of KasparPeterkin and Wilhelmine respectively. These two children are shocked by the cruelty of war ratherthan boasting its glory. Hence their age signifiesthat it is the present generation that realises thecruelty of war while the grown ups chant blindly about the glory of war.

iii)What is meant by “wonder-waiting eyes”?Which figure of speech is used here? Why did

Wilhelmine look up with such eyes?

Ans. The phrase “wonder-waiting eyes” means expecting to see and hear exciting things. The figure of speech used here is alliteration because the consonant ‘W’ is repeated in ‘wonder-waiting’.

Wilhelmine looked up with such eyes because when his grandfather old Kaspar told about the war she expected to hear some exciting stories onwar.

iv)Who fought the battle? Was Peterkin given a satisfactory reply? What does the reply show about a common man’s attitude about war?

Ans. The battle was fought mainly between Austriaand France. However, other countries also allied with these two countries. England, the Netherlands, Portugal and various German dominions allied with Austria; while Bavaria, Cologne, Mantua and Savoy allied themselves with France.

No, Peterkin was not given a satisfactory reply. Peterkin wanted to know the cause of the war but old Kaspar knew not the cause but could only tell that the victory was very glorious.

Old Kaspar’s reply to his grandchildren shows how indifferent common people are towards war.Their concern is only about the result of the war; they remain blind at the consequence and the causes of war.

v) Give a brief character sketch of Kaspar.

Ans. Kaspar was an old man who was a small child when the battle of Blenheim took place. His housewas put on fire and his father fled from there with the little Kaspar and his wife. Kaspar is a simple man who like other common people only chants the glorious victory but remains blind towards theconsequences of war. He is unable to satisfy his grandchildren with the story of the war because he knew not the reason why the battle was fought.

QS – III Read the extract given below answer the questions that follow:

            ‘With fire and sword, the country round

            ——————————————————

            At every famous victory.

i)Which country is referred to in the extract? What is meant by “was wasted far and wide”?

Ans. The country mentioned in the extract refers toSouthern Germany. The phrase “was wasted far and wide” shows what a great destruction and devastation was caused by the famous battle in the war of the Spanish succession.

ii) What did the speaker say about the effects of the battle on his own family?

Ans. The speaker says that his family lived at Blenheim when the battle took place. Their house was beside a system a stream. The enemy soldiersburnt down his dwelling house and his father was forced to flee from their along with wife and little Kaspar without knowing where to go and take shelter.

iii)What is meant by “a childing mother”? Why do you think the poet specifically points out that “many a childing mother ——- new born baby died”?

Ans. The phrase “a childing mother” means a woman who is carrying a baby in her womb.

The poet specifically points out “many a childing mother ———– new born baby died”. I

think he did so to highlight the cruelty of war. Evenunborn and new born babies are not spared from the cruel hands of war.

iv) What do the last two lines in the extract tell you about the attitude of the speaker towards the events that he is narrating? What are your feelings for the speaker”?

Ans. The last two lines in the extract,

“But things like that, you know, must be

  At every famous victory”.

tells us about the ignorance or indifference of people towards the devastation and destructioncaused by a war. People enjoy the glory of a victory but ignores the great devastation and currently caused to innocent lives to achieve such a glorious victory.

I feel pity for the speaker who though was a victim of war but failed to realise the devastationcaused by a war on mankind.

v) By referring to the incidents in the poem, state how “After Blenheim” can be said to be an

anti-war poem.

Ans. An anti-war poem is a poem that speaks about the futility of war. “After Blenheim” is an anti-warpoem. Through old Kaspar, the poet shows that international diplomacy, politics and war are matters which are cut off from the lives common men. The outburst of praise for the warheroes – Duke Marlborough and Prince Eugenereveals the typical inability of an ordinary citizen like Kaspar to grasp the reason why the war tookplace,

            “But what they fought each other for,

              I could not well make out;”

Old Kaspar also tells the sight of destruction to hisgrandchildren.

                        “With fire and sword the country round

                          Was wasted far and wide,

                         And many a childing mother them,

             And new born baby died;”

Moreover, by Kaspar’s refrain, “the great victory”, and “a famous victory”, the poet emphasis the ignorance of the common man about the purpose of war and questions the necessity of a war.

QS. – IVRead the extract given below and answer the questions that follow:

            “They say it was a shocking sight

              —————————————–

              After a famous victory.”

i)To whom does “They” in the extract refer? Why do you think the sight was shocking even when the battle was won?

Ans.“They” in the extract refer to all those people who had witnessed that battle scenes and had reported the scenes during the battle as well as after the victory was achieved.

            Even when the battle was won the sight was shocking because it bore the cruelty of war. Thousands of dead bodies of war victims were leftheaped without any proper buried. These bodieswere left in the open to rot. No proper cremation were done to these war victims.

ii)Which ‘famous victory’ is being referred to in the extract? Who were responsible for this victory?

Ans.  In the year 1704, the anti-French coalition defeated French and Bavarian forces of Blenheim, a village in Southern Germany in the most important battle of the Spanish succession. The extract refers to this victory of the anti-French coalition as the “famous victory”.

The Duke of Marlbro and Prince Eugene of Savoy were responsible for this victory.

iii)What is the tone of the last two times of the extract? What, according to you, the poet wantsto convey in these lines?

Ans. The poet is sarcastic and ironical about the glory of victory in a war. Hence, a tone of sarcasm and irony is seen in the last two lines of the extract.

According to me the poet wants to show the callousness of common people towards the crueltyof war. They glorify war and war heroes but ignorethe war victims.

iv)State clearly how has the poet created an atmosphere of devastation caused by war, in thepoem.

Ans.     Through old Kaspar the poet has pen pictured an atmosphere of devastation caused by war, in

the poem. Kaspar’s father had to flee from there with his wife and little Kaspar not knowing    

where to get shelter. This shows how a war snatches away shelter from the people and turn

them into homeless wanderers. Moreover, the poem tells how houses ae burnt down and

childing mothers and new-born babies killed. Even the post war scenario is no less pathetic.

Even when the field is won then too dead bodies are seen lying in heaps to rot in the sun.

These war victims are not fortunate enough to receive cremation.

v) What was the occupation of the speaker of these  lines? How do you know about his occupation?

Ans.     The speaker of these lines is a farmer by  occupation. In the beginning of the poem Peterkin

             finds a  human skull while playing beside the rivulet. On showing it to Kaspar, his       

              grandfather, the old man sighs and tells that these skulls are found here in  plenty. Often his

               ploughshare turns them out from  his garden,

“And often when I go to plough,

The ploughshare turns them out!”

The above quoted lines suggested that he is a  farmer by occupation.

QS – V Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow:

            “Great praise the Duke of Marlbro’ won

            —————————————————–

            It was a famous victory”.

i)          Who was Duke of Marlbro’? Why did he win great praise?

Ans. Duke of Marlbro’ was an English General and the  Commander of British forces in the war of

         the Spanish Succession. He was praised because he defeated the French forces.

ii)         Who was Prince Eugene? Why does the poet refer to him as ‘our good Prince Eugene’?

Ans.          Prince Eugene was an Austrian General. He was  born in France. The poet refers to him as

                  ‘our good Prince Eugene’ because he along with the Duke of  Marlbro’ defeated the   

                   French at Blenheim.

iii)        What ‘thing’ according to Wilhelmine was wished? Do you agree with her comment? Give     

               reasons to support your answer.

Ans.    According to Wilhelmine, killing innocent  people, childing mothers, new born babies,

burning down houses are wicked things. Yes, I do agree with her comment. It is true that

nothing that claims innocent lives can be great or  famous.

iv)        State briefly the moral of the poem, After  Blenheim.

Ans. “After Blenheim” is an anti-war poem that shows  the devastation and destruction caused by a

           war. It also shows the futility of war. Common men are always unaware of the true reason of a

            war. They only suffer and rejoice at their victory but they  remain indifferent at their own

             sufferance. The poet wants to spread the message of peace and  harmony and to abstain from

              war.

v)         What according to you is the relevance of the  poem in contemporary times? Give reasons to

support your answer.

Ans.    In today’s world people are filled with  selfishness. Hence, war is inevitable. So in

contemporary time the poem highlights the futilityof war. The poem pen-pictures the cruelty

and devastation associated with victories. It wants to  make the common man aware that no

victory can be achieved with vast devastation. Nothing good comes out of a war. With two consecutives, world wars and with so many nuclear power countries

the world is already threatened with a great  destruction. So, this poem warns us to denounce

war and lead a life of peace and harmony.

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