It Couldn’t Be Done, by Edgar A. Guest

Here is another instalment in my ongoing list of poetry I have memorized (see previous post). This one I memorized in the feminine because I say it to myself. It has helped me get through many challenges I have faced. When going through emotional turmoil, I recite this while driving alone in the car (Hey, some people sing aloud… I say poetry). Years ago it helped me with a week-long landscaping project requiring me to lift paving stones and create a pathway in my garden before I had my now-husband to help me (view story here). It was incredibly hard physical labor, but I wanted to do it, and this poem kept me going. Also I remember a time when I was faced with ‘rescuing’ a terribly disorganized office that had just moved locations before hiring me as an Administrator. They had practically thrown all fifteen 6-drawer filing cabinets into a room without any semblance of order, and were now desperate to find the hundreds of files they needed from these haphazard unlabelled cabinets. They hoped I could be done in a week. For two full days I recited this poem (quietly aloud if no one was around, or silently if they were) until that filing room was more organized than they expected, complete with a sign-out system for staff who needed to take files out of the room. That was over twelve years ago and I recently heard some of the senior staff still mention how much I helped them with that project! I owe much of my determination to this poem. I hope you enjoy! 


It Couldn’t Be Done


Somebody said that it couldn’t be done,

But, she with a chuckle replied,

That “maybe it couldn’t” but she would be one

Who wouldn’t say so ’til she’d tried.

She buckled right in with the trace of a grin

On her face. If she worried she hid it.

She started to sing as she tackled the thing

That couldn’t be done, and she did it.


Somebody scoffed: “Oh, you’ll never do that;

At least no one ever has done it”;

But she took off her coat and she took off her hat,

And the next thing we knew she’d begun it!

With a lift of her chin and a bit of a grin,

Without any doubting or quiddit,

She started to sing as she tackled the thing

That couldn’t be done, and she 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 “couldn’t be done,” and you’ll do it.


Written by Edgar A. Guest

*Note ~ Mr. Guest wrote this in the masculine but I am sure he would not mind me sharing it with you here the way that I have memorized it, in the female gender. With deep gratitude.


Edgar Allan Guest
with one of his beloved dogs

As with all of Edgar Guest’s work, his poems were published in newspapers before being collected in bound volumes.
1919 was the date of publication of this poem in “The Path To Home” but it is known to have been in print at least as early as 1917.

On August 20, 1881, Edgar Guest was born in Birmingham, England, to Edwin and Julia Wayne Guest. The family settled in Detroit, Michigan, in 1891. When Edwin lost his job in 1893, eleven-year-old Edgar between working odd jobs after school. In 1895 he was hired as a copy boy for the Detroit Free Press, where he would work for almost sixty-five years. His father died when the poet was seventeen, and he was forced to drop out of high school and work full time at the newspaper. He worked his way up from a copy boy to a job in the news department.

His first poem appeared on December 11, 1898. His weekly column, “Chaff,” first appeared in 1904; his topical verses eventually became the daily “Breakfast Table Chat,” which was syndicated to over three-hundred newspapers throughout the United States.

Author: Gina Day

I enjoy gathering uplifting things for sharing, with hopes of brightening the day.

18 thoughts on “It Couldn’t Be Done, by Edgar A. Guest”

  1. Thank you for sharing this great affirmation, err poem, Gina. It is a wondeful reminder as to how a flock of crows can take down an eagle unless the eagle simply ignores and soars above them.

    With much admiration , appreciation, and affection,


    1. Wow, what an excellent example.. that an eagle must remember to ignore the hassles and rise above! I love it! And I get your funny because it IS like an affirmation isn’t it? An amazing poet he was, and I am lucky and honored to have memorized a few of his works. Thank you so much, always, for your friendship and support! You brighten my world with your sunshine.
      With deepest gratitude,

  2. A beautiful post! Thank you for sharing! Your posts always illuminate my day ! This poem touched the deepest chords of my heart!
    With much love,

  3. You’re right. Great minds do think alike. lol Love how you used it in very difficult situations.

  4. Very nice! I have a post-it note at my desk that basically says, “Those who say something is impossible to do should step out of the way of the ones who are doing it.” – Ethel Kennedy. 🙂

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