Henry Lawson ( )

Knocked Up

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

Oh its trampin, trampin, tra-a-mpin, in flies an dust an heat, 
Or its trampin trampin tra-a-a-mpin 
through mud and slush n sleet; 
Its 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 -- 
Ive 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 Ive tramped this broilin day, 
All for the off-chance of a job a hundred miles away; 
Theres 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 thats the truth; 
I seem to weigh a ton, and ache like one tremendous tooth; 
Im stung between my shoulder-blades -- my blessed back seems broke; 
Im too knocked out to eat a bite -- Im too knocked up to smoke. 

The blessed rain is comin too -- theres oceans in the sky, 
An I suppose I must get up and rig the blessed fly; 
The heat is bad, the waters bad, the flies a crimson curse, 
The grub is bad, mosquitoes damned -- but rheumatisms 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 Gods almighty curse -- 
What ever that same somethin is I swear it cant be worse. 

For its trampin, trampin, tra-a-mpin thro hell across the plain, 
And its 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.

Henry Lawson's other poems:
  1. Wide Lies Australia
  2. To an Old Mate
  3. The League of Nations
  4. Camerons Heart
  5. The Song of the Darling River

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