Now tell us what it was all about

Collection of Poems (10)

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 Wilhelmine 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?

Little children / siblings / Old Kaspar’s grandchildren.

How does the poet describe the scene at the beginning of the poem?

It was an evening in summer / the sun was about to set / Old Kaspar had finished his work for the day / he was sitting in front of his cottage basking in the sun/ watching little Wilhelmine, his granddaughter at play.

(ii) What did Young Peterkin find and where?

A skull (of some poor soldier)

beside a rivulet/ stream/ river

Describe it.

It was large /round / smooth

(iii) Who is referred to as "each other"?

The English/ Austria

the French/ Bavaria

What did they fight for?

War of Succession/ victory/ land and power/ no one really remembers the cause of the war. Old Kaspar cannot recall what the English and the French fought over.

(iv) To whom are the words in the extract addressed?

Kaspar/ the grandfather

How was this person’s family affected by the war?

His father’s home had been burnt to the ground / He, his wife and child had been forced to flee for their lives/ lost their homes - made refugees by the war/ left with no shelter.

(v) What, according to the poet, are the consequences that are often associated with great and famous victories?

Widespread death and destruction/ countryside wasted far and wide with fire and sword / women and children /pregnant (childing) women new born babies died -thousands of bodies lay rotting in the sun / many thousands of soldiers killed.

What message does the poet want to convey to the readers?

Poet’s message - war leads to meaningless death and destruction - wasteful - serves no real purpose - with time the cause of the war is forgotten but the devastating effects linger - makes refugees out of ordinary people/ anti-war