About 10 years ago M&C Saatchi creative director, Andy Fleming, created a poem called Ode to Can that was used for advertising the Commonwealth Bank. Australian actor Toni Collette recited the poem and you can see and hear it by clicking on the following link:
Here is the poem:
Ode to Can
There’s a four letter word
As offensive as any
It holds back the few
Puts a stop to the many.
You can’t climb that mountain
You can’t cross the sea
You can’t become anything you want to be.
He can’t hit a century
They can’t find a cure.
She can’t think about leaving or searching for more.
Because Can’t is a word
With a habit of stopping
The ebb and the flow of ideas
It keeps dropping itself where we know in our hearts it’s not needed
And saying “don’t go” when we could have succeeded.
But those four little letters
That end with a T
They can change in an instant
When shortened to three.
We can take off the T
We can do it today
We can move forward not back
We can find our own way
We can build we can run
We can follow the sun
We can push we can pull
We can say I’m someone
Who refuses to believe
That life can’t be better
With the removal of one insignificant letter.
For those who feel that they need a paper bag nearby when reading it or listening to it, or can’t get over the fact that it was used to promote one of Oz's largest banks, or resent the poem ripping off other poems and even Dr Suess, here are some alternative versions . . .
From a website named Haught at:
Ode to Cant
1. Insincere statements, especially conventional pretence of enthusiasm for high ideals; insincere expressions of goodness or piety.
2. The special vocabulary peculiar to the members of an underworld group.
3. Whining speech, such as that used by beggars.
4. The special terminology understood among the members of a profession, discipline, or class but obscure to the general population; jargon.
There’s a four lettered word,
Something called a contraction,
That likes to create
‘Can’ and ‘not’ interaction.
“You can’t ride that hippo.”
“You can’t drink the sea.”
Can’t is a word that protects you and me.
She can’t throw that javelin
Inside the school hall.
He can’t ride a tank
Through the rich people’s ball.
Can’t is a word
That is good at forestalling
The death of known fuckwits
(Which can sometimes be galling).
But we all know deep down
In our hearts it’s much needed;
The directive “you can’t!”
Is why mankind’s succeeded.
Now, those four little letters
That CommBank reject
Used without punctuation
Make a word we neglect.
When we change can’t to cant
We remove much duress.
We get licence to use words
Like “dream” and “progress”.
We say “build”. We say “run”.
We say “follow the sun.”
(That last one sounds odd
But the first two were fun.)
They’re the ad’s own directions,
They’re cant to a T.
And cant is what big banks
Do best, don’t you see?
Ode to Bank
There’s a four letter word as offensive as any
It refers to the few who get rich from the many
You can’t get that loan, you can’t sign those cheques
‘Cause they need the huge profits to pay their execs.
You can’t build a home or start a new shop
‘Cause when they pay bonuses they just never stop
Yes bank is a word with a habit of lying
About their real motives, they hope we’ll keep buying.
This is another fat load of emotional dross
So that we’ll forget they just don’t give a toss
Yes those four little letters that so often trouble you
Make so much more sense when they start with ‘w’.
My take on the ‘w’ word is that it is either “want” or “won’t”.