Somebody Said That It Couldn’t Be Done – A Memory From Catholic School


When I went to Catholic school, one of the things that the nuns put a lot of emphasis on was memorization. We memorized long-ass prayers. We memorized the Latin words to hymns for choir.

Every week everyone had to choose, memorize, and recite a poem in front of the class. When your turn came, you had to be prepared – the nuns didn’t tolerate anything less. There were days that I was sweating it out at my desk while I struggled with a particular line trying desperately to commit it to memory while waiting for my turn.

As much as I resisted most of the rituals I experienced in my eight years at St. Paschal’s, I have to give those nuns kudos for their teaching methods. Not only did this particular exercise teach me to appreciate poetry, and read about authors of long ago, but in an attempt to memorize a long poem, if there were words or phrases that weren’t familiar to me, it forced me to look them up. Those nuns knew exactly what they were doing!

Once I understood the word or phrase, the meaning of the poem became more clear making it easier to memorize. I was then able to inject a little emphasis and personality into it that helped me entertain some very bored classmates instead of standing up there in front of everyone, sweating like a mutha and just regurgitating words.

In sixth grade I chose a particular poem in Sister Mary Kathleen’s class that has stuck with me. I recited it often to my kids as they were growing up, and I’ve called on it repeatedly to help pull me up by my bootstraps throughout my entire life.

Some things never go out of style. I hope you find inspiration in this quirky little poem and that it gives you encouragement and determination at times you may need it, just the way it has me and still continues to…


Somebody said-Edgar Guest | Women Over Fifty Network
Somebody said... A Memory of Catholic School | Women Over Fifty Network

It Couldn’t Be Done

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.


Did anyone else go to Catholic school? Do you have any poems, quotes or mantras that get you through tough times? I’d love to hear them. Please share yours in the comments below.

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