Tuesday, 9 October 2007

It Couldn't Be Done - Edgar A. Guest

After a day of wailing and gnashing, here's both a balm for the soul and a pick-me-up. The pick-me-up is the poem below, but first, the balm: Jessye Norman's sublime rendition of Delilah's "aria of seduction" from the opera 'Samson and Delilah.' (Yes, it's French. A richly deserved tribute.)

And here's the poem, by Edgar A. Guest (with links from historian Scott Powell's site left in to illustrate the poem isn't just a story) :

It Couldn't Be Done
Somebody said that 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 as 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 ever has 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 as 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.

-Edgar A. Guest


  1. Is there a contradiction between the sense of this poem and the 'jokes' in the previous post?

    Guest's poem safely praises a completed project "he did it" whereas the 'jokes' below mock an optimistic project that failed.

    My impression is that the man who rolls up his sleeves to get the job done should be aware that the people who praise his success in poetry are the same ones who will joke at his failure.

  2. Hi Greg. Contradiction? Not if you see it as a tribute to Laporte and his team.

    Beat the All Blacks after losing to Argentina? It can't be done!


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