William F Dougherty

Rookie - 16 Points (West Hartford, CT)

Villanelle on a Proverb


The heart once broken is a heart no more.
—Edna St. Vincent Millay


The proverb says that time confers relief,
heals a crimson gash or knits whole a bone
and years unlock a knuckled fist of grief

that clenches emptiness in disbelief
to keep one's wits from being overthrown,
while time, the proverb says, confers relief

from cleaving wounds, paradoxical thief,
that also tears apart fused hearts grown
beyond the lock of knuckled-fisted grief

half-hearts collapsed empty in unbelief
at finalities beneath lids of stone,
while time, proverbially, confers relief

by bleaching wounds to scars—its chief
repair—but cannot heal a heart left alone
although the years unlock the fist of grief,

proclaiming the proverbial motif
that all wounds heal, time cannot atone
for vacancy. The proverb lies. Relief
unlocks a fist, but not the archived grief.

Submitted: Thursday, April 19, 2012
Edited: Tuesday, June 12, 2012

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Comments about this poem (Villanelle on a Proverb by William F Dougherty )

  • Silver Star - 3,398 Points Diane Hine (7/3/2014 5:17:00 AM)

    Best villanelle I've ever read. (Report) Reply

  • Silver Star - 3,398 Points Diane Hine (5/31/2012 8:30:00 AM)

    An intricate, absorbing and moving poem. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 125 Points Romeo Della Valle (4/20/2012 6:01:00 PM)

    Wow! What an inspirational and thought provoking piece that clearly shows you are a man of Wisdom which you are openly sharing with the rest of the World! Deep and well crafted! 10+++ Thank for sharing and keep it up! God Bless You! Love and Peace for always! Romeo from New York City! (Report) Reply

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