It Couldn’t Be Done Poem Summary, Notes And Line By Line Analysis In English By Edgar Albert Guest


‘It Couldn’t Be Done’ is a poem written by Edgar Guest. It is an inspirational poem that urges the readers to never give up, come what may. 

About the Poet:

Edgar Albert Guest (1881-1959) was an eminent American poet. Born in British, he is famed for being titled ‘People’s Poet’. Famous works of his include ‘The Panama Canal’, ‘A Heap O’ Living’, and ‘The Path to Home’. 

Stanza 1:

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!

The poem beings with ‘Somebody’, representative of those in society who demotivates people. This somebody is telling the ‘he’ in the poem that whatever they aspire to do couldn’t be done. To that, the ‘he’ replies that perhaps it was so but he would try it all the same.

Thus, he went ahead to do what he wished with ease and confidence, hiding his worry if he felt any. Unsurprisingly, he did it, revealing how being persistent and putting in the effort is the key to success.

Stanza 2:

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.

Again, ‘Somebody’ discourages ‘he’  here. ‘Somebody’ scoffs that ‘he’ wouldn’t be able to do whatever he wished because it had never been done before. Undeterred, ‘he’ forges on with the same ease and confidence seen before, not once doubting himself. Again, he did it.

Stanza 3:

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.

In the final stanza, the poem states how many would be quick to point out to a person how what they wished to do was impossible. They would easily pinpoint the dangers of it, preventing one from going after the task. Yet, one must remain resolute in their decision and plow on with confidence and ease. Should they do that, nothing would be impossible and they’ll find that whatever they aspired to do will be doable. 


This is a motivational poem. It encourages the readers to not be let down by negative remarks and to go after what they wanted to do unflinchingly.