Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow:
"Now tell us what it was all about"
Young Peterkin, he cries.
And little Willhelmines looks up
With wonder - waiting eyes,
"Now tell us all about the war,
And what they fought each other for".
- After Blenheim, Robert Southey
(i) Who are Peterkin and Wilhelmine? How does the poet describe the scene at the beginning of the poem?
(ii) What did Young Peterkin find and where? Describe it?
(iii) Who is referred to as "each other"? What did they fight for?
(iv) To whom are the words in the extract addressed? How was this person's family affected by the war?
(v) What, according to the poet, are the consequences that are often associated with great and famous victories? What message does the poet want to convey to the readers?
(i) Peterkin, a little boy, and Wilhelmine, a young girl, were the grandchildren of old Kaspar. The poet makes the setting of the poem clear at the beginning of the poem by stating that the two children were playing near Kaspar sitting before his cottage. The scene described is quite commonplace but spectacular.
(ii) Young Peterkin, who was playing near the cottage, was rolling something which was large and round. He did not know what it was.
(iii) “Each other” referred to the English and the French who fought a battle at Blenheim. They fought to win supremacy over each other. But the real cause of the battle could not be explained.
(iv) The words in the extract are addressed to the grandfather Kaspar. Kaspar’s family was hard hit by war in which his father’s house was burnt down and he was forced to run away, with his wife and child. He had no place to take shelter.
(v) According to the poet, war is destructive and horrible. It brings miseries, sufferings, and disorder in life. The poet brings out the horrors of war in a simple but ironic way. The young children fail to understand in the poem ‘After Blenheim’ how the war which created so much havoc could be a great and famous war.