FIRE Inspiration – Edgar Guest Poem


As I am out enjoying my third week of early retirement right now, I thought instead of writing a full post today I would share something that I found inspirational over the years, especially when I was looking for motivation or facing seemingly impossible odds.

It is a poem from Edgar Albert Guest, an amazingly prolific writer who penned over 11K poems in his career.  Known as the “People’s Poet”, Guest was published in the Detroit Free Press, his poems were widely syndicated, and he hosted his own radio show.

I heard this poem, “It Couldn’t Be Done” read by Garrison Keillor on National Public Radio almost 20 years ago.  I was so moved by it at the time that I spent hours in the downtown library (no internet then!) looking for it – and kept a copy in my office until the day I retired early.  I’m hoping in it you will also find a little extra bit of grit, confidence, and determination to make your dreams happen.

IT COULDN’T BE DONE – Edgar Albert 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.

Image Credit: Pixabay

12 thoughts on “FIRE Inspiration – Edgar Guest Poem

  1. Awesome poem; very inspiring. Throughout my teenage years, I kept a quote by Henry David Thoreau in a frame beside my bed: “I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by conscious endeavor.” It’s really awesome that you held on to that all those years in your desk. While I don’t have a desk of my own at work, this may have to find its way to my work locker or even in a frame at home. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Which reminds me of a tactic I’ve used before and need to restart: keep an ear on what the naysayers are saying, not because they’re right, but because they might have spotted something I hadn’t considered or hadn’t yet noticed. Many of their voicings are not so much about obstacles as about landscape.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s amazing how much our mind plays tricks with us. Quotes are a powerful vehicle to keep focused and also provide a healthy dose of perspective. New blogger here and just found your site and glad I did. Recently posted on “Cognitive Distortions” which kinda relates to being cognizant of distractions and distortions that can get in the way of the journey toward our goals

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: FIRE Station Fun – Winning Attitude | Mr.FireStation

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