Did you ever stop and think
how the world would be
if folks had turned out

For instance,
what if Ben Franklin
never tried to fly a kite,
or Shakespeare never tried to

What if Einstein never
used his brain
or the Wright brothers
never tried to fly a plane?

What if Lincoln never tried
to free the slaves,
or Susan B. Anthony was
afraid to make waves?

What if Alexander Graham Bell
was content to just yell?

What if Ford never tried
to make a car,
or Walt Disney never
wished upon a star?

What if Beethoven
never tried to play?
What if Mother Teresa
turned away?

What if Babe Ruth
was afraid to swing a bat?
What if Columbus accepted
that the world was flat?

What if Lucianno Pavarotti
never tried to sing?
What if dreams were enough
for Martin Luther King?

What if Jim Thorpe
never entered the race,
or Baryshnikov let another
dance in his place?

What if Michelangelo thought
he wasn't good enough,
or John Glenn feared
he didn't have the right stuff?

What if all the folks
who've changed the world
had lived and died
and never tried?

What if you had a dream
and you held it inside...
and never tried?
Jackie French Koller
WHAT IF... originally published in Cobblestone magazine.
"What Is History?," January 1990. Copyright 1990 Cobblestone
Publishing. Used by permission.
WHAT IF... has become something of a phenomena. I was getting so many
requests for permission to use it from teachers around the country that I
decided to make it available right here on my website. Unfortunately, I wrote
WHAT IF... very early in my writing career. I was so eager for publishing
credits that I sold "all rights" to the Cobblestone Magazine, which means that
my poem no longer belongs to me and I can never publish it anywhere else,
even in another form or language, even if Cobblestone never uses it again.
They did allow me to publish it here for the free use of my readers, but my
advice to writers and aspiring writers would be NEVER, UNDER ANY
CIRCUMSTANCES sell all rights. If you would like your own copy of WHAT
IF..., just download the PDF at the bottom of the page.