Can't is the worst word that's written or spoken;
Doing more harm here than slander or 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 of feeble endeavor,
The parent of terror and half-hearted 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,
It stifles in infancy many a plan;
It greets honest toil with open derision
And mocks at the hopes and the dreams of a man.
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 purpose and shortens his aim.
Despise it with all of your hatred of error;
Refuse it logment it seeks in your brain;
Arm against it as a creature of terror,
And all that you dream of you some day 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 with a mission
And bows to courage and patience and skill.
Hate it, with hatred that's deep and undying.
For once it is welcomed 'twil break any man;
Whatever goal you are seeking, keep trying
And answer this demon by saying: "I can."
'Tis better to have tried in vain,
Sincerely striving for a goal,
Than to have lived upon the plain
An idle and a timid soul.
"Tis better to have fought and spent
Your courage, missing all applause,
Than to have lived in smug content
And never ventured for a cause.
For he who tries and fails may be
The founder of a better day;
Though never his the victory,
From him shall others learn the way.
No one is beat till he quits,
No one is through till he stops,
No matter how hard Failure hits,
No matter how often he drops,
A fellow's not down till he lies
In the dust and refuses to rise.
Fate can slam him and bang him around,
And batter his frame till he's sore,
But she never can say that he's downed
While he bobs up serenely for more.
A fellow's not dead till he dies,
Nor beat till no longer he tries.
[My bed-ridden Dad said those two last lines "really got to me." Me too.]
To live as gently as I can;
To be, no mater where, a man;
To take what comes of good or ill
And cling to faith and honor still;
To do my best, and let that stand
The record of my brain and hand;
And then, should failure come to me,
Still work and hope for victory.
To have no secret place wherein
I stoop unseen to shame or sin;
To be the same when I'm alone
As when my every deed is known;
To live undaunted, unafraid
Of any step that I have made;
To be without pretense or shame
Exactly what men think I am.
To leave some simple mark behind
To keep my having lived in mind;
If enmity to aught I show,
To be an honest, generous foe,
To play my part, nor whine
That greater honors are not mine.
This, I believe, is all I need
For my philosophy and creed.
These poems from Edgar A. Guest, A Heap o' Livin'
(Chicago: Reilly & Lee Co., 1916)