Banjo Paterson

The Silent Shearer

Weary and listless, sad and slow, Without any conversation, Was a man that worked on The Overflow, The butt of the shed and the station. The shearers christened him Noisy Ned, With an alias "Silent Waters", But never a needless word he said In the hut or the shearers' quarters. Which caused annoyance to Big Barcoo, The shed's unquestioned ringer, Whose name was famous Australia through As a dancer, fighter and singer. He was fit for the ring, if he'd had his rights As an agent of devastation; And the number of men he had killed in fights Was his principal conversation. "I have known blokes go to their doom," said he, "Through actin' with haste and rashness: But the style that this Noisy Ned assumes, It's nothing but silent flashness. "We may just be dirt, from his point of view, Unworthy a word in season; But I'll make him talk like a cockatoo Or I'll get him to show the reason." Was it chance or fate, that King Condamine, A king who had turned a black tracker, Had captured a baby purcupine, Which he swapped for a "fig tobacker"? With the porcupine in the Silent's bed The shearers were quite elated, And the things to be done, and the words to be said, Were anxiously awaited. With a screech and a howl and an eldritch cry That nearly deafened his hearers He sprang from his bunk, and his fishy eye Looked over the laughing shearers. He looked them over and he looked them through As a cook might look through a larder; "Now, Big Barcoo, I must pick on you, You're big, but you'll fall the harder." Now, the silent man was but slight and thin And of middleweight conformation, But he hung one punch on the Barcoo's chin And it ended the altercation. "You've heard of the One-round Kid," said he, "That hunted 'em all to shelter? The One-round Finisher -- that was me, When I fought as the Champion Welter. "And this Barcoo bloke on his back reclines For being a bit too clever, For snakes and wombats and porcupines Are nothing to me whatever. "But the golden rule that I've had to learn In the ring, and for years I've tried it, Is only to talk when it comes your turn, And never to talk outside it."

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