‘It Couldn’t Be Done’ a poem by Edgar Albert Guest

 

How many of us have been motivated by someone telling us ‘it couldn’t be done?’

In September 2007 Randy Pausch, professor and founder of the Carnegie Mellon Entertainment Technology Center, enumerated the brick walls he climbed to achieve his childhood dreams. The message of his now famous ‘Last Lecture’ was about overcoming obstacles, reframing our perception of obstruction.

“…the brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.”

Ninety years earlier, Edgar Albert Guest published his poem ‘It Couldn’t Be Done’. Paired with Pausch’s ‘Last Lecture’, this week’s Friday Poem encourages the Class of 2016 to follow their dreams, and not be sidetracked by the doubters.

 

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 in to sing as you tackle the thing
That “cannot be done,” and you’ll do it.

Edgar Albert Guest   1917

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