May 28, 2009

Papaw's Favorite Poem

My maternal grandfather was a delightful man who regularly walks the halls of my memory. Whether it is the "million-jillion pieces" into which he used to cut my morning toast or the indelible vision of his solitary figure contentedly tending the garden, he is part of the daily fabric of my life. Just this morning my ministry assistant made mention of a pithy phrase from a calendar gracing the kitchen window of our office and it reminded me of Papaw. The phrase was this, "Pessimists are people who need a swift kick in the can'ts." Papaw would have liked this and would have likely launched into a recital of, what I must believe was, his favorite poem, "It Couldn't Be Done" by Edgar Guest. I gladly place it here for your review and my joy-filled remembrance.

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, as he did it.

Somebody scoffed: "Oh, you'll never do that;
At least no one we know 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 right 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


sojourner said...

Oh my! This is the poem i think about all the time. It was my mother in law's favorite. We read it at her funeral. She had a copy stuck in her Bible. It meant so much to her because she had muscular dystrophey and the doctors told her parents that she would not live past young adulthood. She proved everybody wrong! She went to school and obtained a master's degree in history, taught school for many years, married, had two children, and helped raise grand children. Thank you so much for including it here!

John said...


What a tremendous story! Thank you for sharing it here. I cannot imagine the courage her life's example had imparted to you.

I wonder if Mr. Guest had any notion of the impact these few lines would have on so many people?