Knocked Up

Henry Lawson, 1893

      I'm lyin' on the barren ground that's baked and cracked with drought,
      And dunno if my legs or back or heart is most wore out;
      I've got no spirits left to rise and smooth me achin' brow —
      I'm too knocked up to light a fire and bile the billy now.

      Oh it's trampin', trampin', tra-a-mpin', in flies an' dust an' heat,
      Or it's trampin' trampin' tra-a-a-mpin' through mud and slush 'n sleet;
      It's tramp an' tramp for tucker — one everlastin' strife,
      An' wearin' out yer boots an' heart in the wastin' of yer life.

      They whine o' lost an' wasted lives in idleness and crime —
      I've wasted mine for twenty years, and grafted all the time
      And never drunk the stuff I earned, nor gambled when I shore —
      But somehow when yer on the track yer life seems wasted more.

      A long dry stretch of thirty miles I've tramped this broilin' day,
      All for the off-chance of a job a hundred miles away;
      There's twenty hungry beggars wild for any job this year,
      An' fifty might be at the shed while I am lyin' here.

      The sinews in my legs seem drawn, red-hot — 'n that's the truth;
      I seem to weigh a ton, and ache like one tremendous tooth;
      I'm stung between my shoulder-blades — my blessed back seems broke;
      I'm too knocked out to eat a bite — I'm too knocked up to smoke.

      The blessed rain is comin' too — there's oceans in the sky,
      An' I suppose I must get up and rig the blessed fly;
      The heat is bad, the water's bad, the flies a crimson curse,
      The grub is bad, mosquitoes damned — but rheumatism's worse.

      I wonder why poor blokes like me will stick so fast ter breath,
      Though Shakespeare says it is the fear of somethin' after death;
      But though Eternity be cursed with God's almighty curse —
      What ever that same somethin' is I swear it can't be worse.

      For it's trampin', trampin', tra-a-mpin' thro' hell across the plain,
      And it's trampin' trampin' tra-a-mpin' thro' slush 'n mud 'n rain —
      A livin' worse than any dog — without a home 'n wife,
      A-wearin' out yer heart 'n soul in the wastin' of yer life.