14 Nov Knocked Up
by 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.