Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Sonnet 129

As A.O. Scott relates in his review of the movie Shame, this poem, "as incisive an anatomy of erotic compulsion as exists in English, begins by evoking 'the expense of spirit in a waste of shame' and cycles through the rages and frustrations of lust before collapsing in exhausted fatalism." For full effect, ingest slowly by duly masticating.

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;
Enjoy'd 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.
-William Shakespeare 

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