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It Couldn't Be Done
Edgar Guest

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.

This poem is in the public domain.


Edgar Guest (1881 - 1959)  was born in England,  but moved with his family to Detroit, Michigan, when he was ten years old. He worked for more than sixty years at the Detroit Free Press, publishing his first poem at the age of seventeen, then going on to become a reporter and columnist whose work was featured in hundreds of newspapers around the country. Edgar is said to have written some 11,000 poems during his lifetime, most of it sentimental, short, upbeat verse. Critics often derided his work, but America adored him. He was known as the "People's Poet," served as Michigan's poet laureate, hosted a long-running radio show and TV show, and published more than twenty books.



Post New Comment:
What Edgar Guest book was this poem first published?
Posted 10/05/2021 10:49 PM
I forwarded this poem on, & immediately heard back from my cousin that she'd printed it out & hung it on the wall in front of her desk. Great idea. Thank you for sharing this.
Posted 03/03/2011 05:40 AM
Carol V.:
I grew up in Detroit. My family enjoyed Edgar Guest's poetry in our newspaper.
Posted 03/02/2011 07:14 PM
This has always been one of my very favorite poems! It has been my life's mantra, "give it a try & maybe you can do it!!" LOVE IT!!!
Posted 03/02/2011 12:00 PM
Thanks! I needed this poem. Got several rejections in the last couple of days, and I have begun to feel that my dreams just cannot be done. Maybe I should start singing more! At least I can get to it!
Posted 03/02/2011 08:33 AM
Thank you for starting my day with a smile, with the memory of my grandfather reciting this poem. Heloved "Eddie" Guest's poetry!
Posted 03/02/2011 08:32 AM
Phyllis Beckman:
Just the nudge I need today to tackle the challenge I'm scared of.
Posted 03/02/2011 07:26 AM

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