“The Mirage” is one of eight poems by Cpl. D. Nevitt in Robert Dickinson’s Camp 59 journal, “Servigliano Calling.”
T’was in a lonely desert outpost,
Where a sunburnt sentry lay,
Looking o’er towards the Jerries,
Not so very far away.
The flies for ever buzzing,
Converged upon that spot,
And the burning sun above him,
Made those yellow sands quite hot.
For hours he lay there watching,
But he didn’t mind that day.
For he’d just received a letter,
From a thousand miles away.
For thirteen weeks he’d waited,
Waited so patiently,
And now at last it had arrived,
That note from oversea.
From the girl whom he had married,
Some seven years ago,
And their little baby daughter,
How he adored them so.
Such a lovely little kiddie,
Just six years old last June,
But old enough to scribble,
Please daddy come back soon.
And as he lay there looking,
Across the barren sand,
The dessert disappeared,
And he saw another land.
In place of stifling desert air,
He felt a cooling breeze;
And in place of rocks and sand-dunes,
He saw green fields and trees.
He heard the whistling of the birds,
Not he buzzing of the flies;
He saw a rippling, babbling stream,
O’er where that waddi* lies.
And he saw a little village,
And a cottage on it’s own,
With roses growing round its door,
The place he knew as home.
And he saw himself there sitting,
Such a peaceful sight to see,
With his wife right there beside him,
And his child upon his knee.
In those days he’d been so happy,
Not wishing then for more,
But now all that was over,
For, since then, had come the war.
And then he’d joined the army,
For duration he had signed,
And he’d been sent to Egypt,
Leaving wife and child behind.
And as he thought of Eqypt,
Away went all his dreams,
The bees and all the meadows,
The village and bubbling streams.
And the flies they buzzed in hundreds,
As he lay upon the sand,
Serving his King and Country.
In that God-forsaken land.
*A wadi is a North African valley, gully, or steambed that is dry except during the rainy season.