An Unexpected Guest

1 Aug

One of the things I love about the internet are the random connections it throws up. I clicked through from Twitter to a list about books that are better than the films (as a writer and a film fan that’s the kind of clickbait I’m very vulnerable to.) Of course, one of the things that is very irritating about the internet is the difficulty in finding anything again, unless you’ve bookmarked it, so I can’t give you the link to the list, I’m afraid.

Anyway, there were two books on the list that I hadn’t read. One was Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk, which I have ordered from the library, and the other one was I am Legend by Richard Matheson. And just like that, I have added a name to my list of favourite authors, because it turns out that this man, whom I thought I’d never heard of, not only wrote the story Somewhere in Time (or Bid Time Return), which I really enjoyed but had completely forgot the title and author of, but he also wrote the screenplay of one of my favourite films, The Incredible Shrinking Man! (Yes, it sounds awful, but it’s actually a very thoughtful and touching film. And the fight with the giant spider is great!)

Continuing the theme of random connections, in the book I am Legend the narrator makes a joke about the last man on Earth being Edgar Guest. Not having the first clue who Edgar Guest was (although I could tell from the context he was probably a wordsmith of some kind), I naturally reached for my smartphone and looked him up. He was a poet, as it turned out, and the first poem of his that I turned up (courtesy of the Poetry Foundation), I rather liked. It’s also a very good fit for the book, in which a man keeps going in almost overwhelming circumstances. So here it is for you to enjoy, and I hope that my blog will also be a source of serendipitous connections in the vast internet.

It Couldn’t Be Done

BY 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.

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