Study Guide

if everything happens that can't be done Quotes

  • Love

    forever was never till now (27)

    Though we haven't heard anything about love yet in this poem, thinking about "forever" sure does make us think about love. This line also tips us off that when we do hear about love, we know that it's not just puppy love, but a forever kind of love. You know, the kind of love that makes things that seemed impossible possible?

    now i love you and you love me (28)

    How simple and straightforward. The speaker is addressing someone whom he loves, and who he seems to be pretty sure loves him back. We're happy for him, and we're also happy that we can finally figure out the reason why our speaker is so darn playful and happy in this poem. It's an a-ha moment for us readers.

    there's somebody calling who's we (36)

    The speaker feels his love for this person is changing him from a "me" to a "we." It's as if this mysterious "we-ness" is calling him on the telephone, just to let him know that he's more than himself now; he's the person he loves, too.

    we're anything brighter than even the sun (37)

    This hyperbole expresses the brilliance of being a "we" on account of love. Even the sun isn't as bright as the relationship between these two lovebirds. Sigh.

    alive we're alive (44)

    He feels <em>so</em> alive that he uses the word "alive" twice in a three-word line. Okay, dude, we get it. You're in love, and it feels spectacular.

    we're wonderful one times one (45)

    So, we already pretty much know from the rest of the poem that the couple being described is wonderful. We think, though, that the idea of describing a wonderful love as "one times one" is pretty cool. When you think about a couple, you probably think of one plus one – two people, together. Instead, this couple is one times one, which equals one.

  • Education

    the stupidest teacher will almost guess (5)

    After we hear the second through fourth lines claiming that books don't always plan things right, we hear about the "stupidest teacher." The poem has a negative attitude towards books and school the whole way through, which stands out because the rest of the poem is so positive.

    (with a run
    skip
    around we go yes) (6-8)

    Now, you might be thinking, how do these lines relate to education? Our answer is that perhaps these lines relate to one of the parts of education we think our speaker likes: recess. Throughout the poem, many of the parentheses contain lines that express a joy like you'd find in a playground.

    (and buds know better
    than books
    don't grow) (11-13)

    Here we get a little bit of book bashing. Except it's not quite bashing. He's just saying, "Hey, buds, the first fresh growth of nature, know better than books." Even though we don't expect books to grow, these lines point that out as something wrong about books. Maybe, the lines suggest, the ability to grow is more important than we realize, and books can't grow because, well, you can't add more words to them, can you?

    (and birds sing sweeter
    than books
    tell how) (20-22)

    Again, these lines seem to point out a negative about books that we've never really considered before – that books don't sing. Birds, however, do, so perhaps we should listen to them rather than what we read in a book.

    (with a shout
    each
    around we go all) (33-35)

    These lines bring us back to the glee and joy of recess. They make us think of a circle of kids, spinning around and shouting some word game. Ah, remember the good old days of elementary school?

    (we're everything greater
    than books
    might mean) (38-40)

    These lines are the finale of this poem's anti-book sentiments. "We" – which here means the couple in this poem, but probably also people in general, and specifically people who are in love – are just plain better than books.

  • Man vs. the Natural World

    (and buds know better
    than books
    don't grow) (11-13)

    Here, we see the speaker's preference for nature. Flower buds not only grow, they know better than books. Well we're not sure what we've ever learned about math and physics from flower buds, but they sure can teach just as well as a book about the beauty of this world.

    so world is a leaf so a tree is a bough (19)

    The speaker uses images from nature to demonstrate his ideas of oneness. The world can be summed up in just one leaf, or a tree in a single bough. Of course, this isn't really true, but it shows us that the speaker feels as if the whole world is together, is one.

    (and birds sing sweeter
    than books
    tell how) (20-22)

    These are the lines that most nature lovers would probably choose to quote from this poem. But we at Shmoop think, why not go outside and listen to the birds sing while you're reading a book? Birds might sing sweeter, but books are still pretty cool too. You can get the best of both worlds.

    we're anything brighter than even the sun (37)

    The sun is the root of a lot of nature. We actually couldn't live without it. It fuels our whole world. So it's pretty cool to think that "we," who is meant to be the lovers in this poem, are brighter than the sun. While we don't think that love alone could light the world, it sure can in this poem.

    (with a spin
    leap
    alive we're alive) (42-44)

    Though there's nothing specific that tells us that we're in nature, spinning and leaping and feeling alive are all things that we do outside. In fact, we think our speaker would argue that being outside makes you feel more alive than anything else you could do.

  • Versions of Reality

    if everything happens that can't be done (1)

    This line sets up the world of the rest of the poem. Literally, everything is happening that can't be done. The world of this poem is full of impossibilities that have become doable, and which are actually happening, which opens up all kinds of doors for us readers.

    one's anything old being everything new (14)

    Anything old, being everything new? This would be like your grandfather becoming a young boy again, or your old faded blue jeans becoming suddenly crisp and bright again. Sounds pretty impossible and otherworldly to us. But, then again, the world of this poem is a world of hyperbole and metaphor, so maybe our speaker is comparing the feeling of love he has to the miracle of the impossible happening.

    so world is a leaf so a tree is a bough (19)

    Remember, nothing is impossible, so these lines could be literal as well as figurative. The world could actually be just a leaf, and a tree could be just a bough. Big can be small, and vice versa.

    so here is away and so your is a my (23)

    Now we make these impossibilities that are happening personal. Because our speaker is in love, he feels that his possessions are his love's possessions and, possibly, that his love is right there with him even when far away.

    forever was never till now (27)

    It seems like the force that makes the impossible happen in this poem is love. Maybe our speaker was a big skeptic, who thought he could never love someone forever. But then he met this person, and found that eternal love <em>was</em> possible because love <em>made </em>it possible.

  • Awe and Amazement

    if everything happens that can't be done (1)

    This line sets up the impossible to happen in this poem, which we think would cause an awful lot of awe or amazement. Or perhaps it's awe and amazement at the wonders of being in love that creates this world in which nothing feels impossible. Ah, the age old question: is it the chicken or the egg?

    (with a what
    which
    around we come who) (15-17)

    This sounds like something that someone who's in awe, or at least shock, would say. Quick questions, fired one after another, give us the feeling that something wild is happening, and our speaker can't quite wrap his head around it. (Hey, neither can we!)

    and deep in the high that does nothing but fall (32)

    The amazement of euphoria plays a role in this line, and by this part of the poem, we know that we're dealing with the euphoria of love. This love is so intense that it feels deep and high at the same time. Saying that it does nothing but fall means that the feeling can't possibly get any higher. It's at its top point, its apex. But here's a question: isn't this a sad moment in the poem? If you're at the height of love, well, then it's all downhill from here.

    we're anything brighter than even the sun (37)

    This line, which uses hyperbole, or super duper exaggeration, continues to demonstrate the awe and amazement that is love.

    we're wonderful one times one (45)

    The poem wraps up with a simple description of the feelings of awe and amazement in this anything-is-possible poem. It's wonderful to be not two people, but one times one.