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Compare and Contrast ‘After Blenheim’ By Robert Southey and ‘Drummer Hodge’ By Thomas Hardy

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Compare and Contrast 'After Blenheim' by Robert Southey and 'Drummer Hodge' by Thomas Hardy 'After Blenheim' is a poem written by Robert Southey in 1798. It is about an old man named Kasper. Kasper is telling his grandchildren, Peterkin and Wilhelmine, about the Battle of Blenheim (1704) during the Franco Prussian War. It was written to give an anti-war message because of the situation between England and France. Hardy wrote 'Drummer Hodge' in 1899 during the Boer War. It is about a young drummer boy who is in an unknown place. It was written to give Hardy's point of view on the war between England and the Boers. The story was chosen to give a message of war and experience for young men. Hardy wrote it because he believed it was strange that a young boy should leave his home in Wessex to enter the war and end his life dead in Africa, a country that he knows nothing of and is forever lost.


The story is based upon a young drummer boy sent into the Boer War. He's just died and the poem begins with a scene of hundreds of bodies being thrown into a heap, with no funeral or procession. It is considered very heartbreaking that the boy has died lost, in an unknown place. Unfamiliar people and sounds surround him and 'foreign constellations' mark the stars that signify the boy's resting place although they are unknown stars to him. The second verse describes how he was born in Wessex and died in a strange place. The poem then goes on to tell the reader about the boy's burial spot means his body will grow with a Southern tree although he was born with a 'Northern breast and brain.' And the ending of the poem explains how he is eternally where he doesn't belong. The ending is considered very ironic because he will forever be with outlandish scenery. It is also very ironic that the drummer boy was killed although it is only the soldiers' jobs to kill, the young boy doesn't kill others.


'After Blenheim' is concerning an old man but 'Drummer Hodge relates to a young boy. Hardy's poem is mature and isn't for the faint of heart, but the other poem is much more childish and simple. 'After Blenheim' is a story of someone who lived through the war and is therefore less depressing than 'Drummer Hodge,' which is about a boy who died during the Boer War. Also, 'Drummer Hodge' makes the reader sympathize with the boy, but 'After Blenheim' makes you pity Kasper and feel sorry for the civilians who died. Overall, 'After Blenheim' can be taken as a children's poem because of the rhyming and rhythm. However, I think that those who truly read into the poem, between the lines, discover the underlying theme. Therefore, it is rather complicated and may be approached as a children's poem, but is for older readers. 'Drummer Hodge' is definitely not for younger individuals because it is very detailed and is more sophisticated with vocabulary more advanced, and including Afrikaans. I think both poets put across their views on war very clearly and very well. ?? ?? ?? ?? Rafa Alam 10G 2002-07-09 1

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