Sonnet 129: Th’ Expense Of Spirit In A Waste Of Shame by William Shakespeare

The expense of spirit in a waste of shame
Is lust in action: and till action, lust
Is perjured, murderous, bloody, full of blame,
Savage, extreme, rude, cruel, not to trust;
Enjoyed no sooner but despised straight;
Past reason hunted; and no sooner had,
Past reason hated, as a swallowed bait,
On purpose laid to make the taker mad.
Mad in pursuit and in possession so;
Had, having, and in quest to have extreme;
A bliss in proof, and proved, a very woe;
Before, a joy proposed; behind a dream.
All this the world well knows; yet none knows well
To shun the heaven that leads men to this hell.

Sonnet 129: Translation to modern English

Squandering vital energy in a wasteland of moral decay is what satisfying one’s lust amounts to. And in the anticipation of it lust makes one dishonest, murderous, violent, blameworthy, savage, extreme, rude and not to be trusted. As soon as its goal has been achieved one despises it. It’s hunted beyond reason and as soon as it’s had it’s hated beyond reason, like an irresistible bait put in front of one on purpose to make the taker mad. One is crazy in the pursuit of sex, and during sex too: having had it, having it and hunting for it one goes to extremes. It’s blissful while it’s happening and a true sorrow afterwards – before an anticipated joy, afterwards nothing but a dream. Everyone knows this very well, yet no-one knows it well enough to avoid the heaven that leads men to this hell.

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