Camp Follower's Song, Gomal River Poem by Laurence Hope

Camp Follower's Song, Gomal River



We have left Gul Kach behind us,
Are marching on Apozai,--
Where pleasure and rest are waiting
To welcome us by and by.

We're falling back from the Gomal,
Across the Gir-dao plain,
The camping ground is deserted,
We'll never come back again.

Along the rocks and the defiles,
The mules and the camels wind.
Good-bye to Rahimut-Ullah,
The man who is left behind.

For some we lost in the skirmish,
And some were killed in the fight,
But he was captured by fever,
In the sentry pit, at night.

A rifle shot had been swifter,
Less trouble a sabre thrust,
But his Fate decided fever,
And each man dies as he must.

Behind us, red in the distance.
The wavering flames rise high,
The flames of our burning grass-huts,
Against the black of the sky.

We hear the sound of the river,
An ever-lessening moan,
The hearts of us all turn backwards
To where he is left alone.

We sing up a little louder,
We know that we feel bereft,
We're leaving the camp together,
And only one of us left.

The only one, out of many,
And each must come to his end,
I wish I could stop this singing,
He happened to be my friend.

We're falling back from the Gomal
We're marching on Apozai,
And pleasure and rest are waiting
To welcome us by and by.

Perhaps the feast will taste bitter,
The lips of the girls less kind,--
Because of Rahimut-Ullah,
The man who is left behind!

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