A line-by-line translation

Shakespeare's Sonnets

A line-by-line translation

Shakespeare's Sonnets

Shakespeare's Sonnets Translation Sonnet 129

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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.

The spending of spirits in a wasteful and shameful act
Is the activity of lust, and, until the real action, lust
Is unfaithful, murderous, bloody, and deserving of blame,
Savage, violent, crude, cruel, untrustworthy;
It is no sooner enjoyed but it is hated straight after;
It is sought unreasonably, and no sooner had
But it is hated unreasonably, as a swallowed bait
That was laid intentionally to make whoever takes it mad:
Mad when they pursue it, and mad when they have it,
Violent in having, having had, and wanting to have more;
Blissful to taste, but miserable to have tasted;
Before consummation, it is a joy promised; after, a mere dream.
All the world knows this but no one knows it well enough
To resist the heaven of lust, which leads men to this hell.

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Suzy kim
About the Translator: Suzy Kim

Suzy Kim is a graduate student studying Victorian literature at Brown University. She studied English and Psychology at University of Pennsylvania, and some of her creative work can be found in the upcoming volume of The Graphic Canon: Tales of Crime and Mystery Vol. 1. She is from Seoul, and currently lives in Providence, Rhode Island.