Friday, August 29, 2008

Poetry Friday -- Labor Day

For all the workers who take off their coats and hats and tackle the jobs no one else will do, no one else can do, or that no one thinks can even be accomplished:

It Couldn't Be Done
By Edgar Guest

Somebody said it couldn't be done,
But he with a chuckle replied
That "maybe it couldn't," but he would be one
Who wouldn't say so till he'd tried.
So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing and he tackled the thing
That couldn't be done, and he did it.

Somebody scoffed: "Oh, you'll never do that;
At least no one has ever done it";
But he took off his coat and he took off his hat,
And the first thing we knew he'd begun it.
With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
Without any doubting or quiddit,
He started to sing and he tackled the thing
That couldn't be done, and he did it.

There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
There are thousands to prophesy failure;
There are thousands to point out to you, one by one,
The dangers that wait to assail you.
But just buckle in with a bit of a grin,
Just take off your coat and go to it;
Just start to sing as you tackle the thing
That "cannot be done," and you'll do it.

(first published in 1914)

The round up this week is at Charlotte's Library.


  1. love love love. somehow reminds me, and i'm not a regular scripture-quoter, of something i just last night, read printed on one of those cards they send you for donating money, a birthday card from my late uncle:

    "ask, and it shall be given to you; seek and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you" matthew 7:7

    the point of this quote, for me, and of the lovely poem you've shared, is that we must be our own agents of change and progress in our lives. the above quote requires personal action above all: ask, seek, knock. and the poem: buckle in, go to it, do it. same sentiment, for me.

    i've said it before and i'll say it again: sometimes what we're reading reads us, and we have no say in what we seemingly stumble upon.

  2. Anonymous9:18 AM

    I love Edgar Guest, both the rhythm of his words and the optimism.

  3. teach people, you reminded me of the Ghandi quote: "You must be the change you wish to see in the world."

  4. Anonymous6:36 PM

    Everyone else has such deep remarks, yet the last two lines put me in mind of Mary Poppins: "Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down."

  5. teach people --

    This poem reminds me a lot of Marge Piercy's poem TO BE OF USE that you used for PF last week.

  6. My sister in law once gave me a card with the inscription: "Those who say it can not be done should not interrupt those who are doing it." It's a Chinese proverb and I like it a lot.

  7. Anonymous7:53 AM

    This poem always makes me smile! And I love Cloudscome's proverb (well, you know, the one she shared).

  8. Thank you for posting this poem. I printed it out and hung it up so all my employees could read it as inspiration for their day.


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