As the planet Earth takes a deep breath and gets psyched up for one more circuit of its favorite star, we dwellers thereon grasp at any straw of comfort or encouragement, finding a word of uplift in the canopic jar of poetry left behind by the bard Edgar Guest.
Perhaps you look aghast at your ambitions for the near future, not waiting for abject failure to prompt the lament “What was I thinking?” but already stricken with doubt you cry out “What AM I thinking?” Tut-tut. You need a dose of ATTAPERSON! A cheerful slap on the back and a spine-stiffening, “You go, girl-boy!”
That’s where Edgar Guest comes in. Take heart from his great Can Do poem (edited so gals won’t feel left out of all the fun) ironically entitled “Can’t.” Give it lodgement in your brain!
by Edgar Guest
from his collection A Heap o’ Livin’ (1916)
Can’t is the worst word that’s written or spoken;
Doing more harm here than slander and lies;
On it is many a strong spirit broken,
And with it many a good purpose dies.
It springs from the lips of the thoughtless each morning
And robs us of courage we need through the day;
It rings in our ears like a timely sent warning
And laughs when we falter and fall by the way.
Can’t is the father [also the mother] of feeble endeavor,
The parent of terror and halfhearted work;
It weakens the efforts of artisans clever,
And makes of the toiler an indolent shirk.
It poisons the soul of the man with a vision [or grande dame with a pigeon],
It stifles in infancy many a plan [or email];
It greets honest toiling with open derision
And mocks at the hopes and the dreams of a man [or female].
Can’t is a word none should speak without blushing;
To utter it should be a symbol of shame;
Ambition and courage it daily is crushing;
It blights a man’s [or woman’s] purpose and shortens his [or her] aim.
Despise it with all of your hatred of error;
Refuse it the lodgement it seeks in your brain;
Arm against it as a creature of terror,
And all that you dream of you someday shall gain.
Can’t is the word that is foe to ambition
An enemy ambushed to shatter your will;
Its prey is forever the man [hominid] with a mission
And bows but to courage and patience and skill.
Hate it, with hatred that’s deep and undying,
For once it is welcomed ’twill break any man [or lady];
Whatever the goal you are seeking, keep trying
And answer this demon by saying: “I can. [O, baby!]”
Awright! I for one am ready to roll up my sleeves and locate a vein.