Sonnet 129: Th'expense of spirit in a waste of shame

By William Shakespeare 1564–1616 William Shakespeare
Th' expense of spirit in a waste of shame
Is lust in action; and till action, lust
Is perjured, murd'rous, bloody, full of blame,
Savage, extreme, rude, cruel, not to trust,
Enjoyed no sooner but despisèd 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.

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Poet William Shakespeare 1564–1616

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Renaissance

Subjects Love, Disappointment & Failure, Living, Relationships, Desire, Infatuation & Crushes, Realistic & Complicated

Poetic Terms Sonnet

 William  Shakespeare

Biography

While William Shakespeare's reputation is based primarily on his plays, he became famous first as a poet. With the partial exception of the Sonnets (1609), quarried since the early nineteenth century for autobiographical secrets allegedly encoded in them, the nondramatic writings have traditionally been pushed to the margins of the Shakespeare industry. Yet the study of his nondramatic poetry can illuminate Shakespeare's . . .

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Poems by William Shakespeare

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Love, Disappointment & Failure, Living, Relationships, Desire, Infatuation & Crushes, Realistic & Complicated

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Renaissance

Poetic Terms Sonnet

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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