Shakespeare's Sonnets Translation Sonnet 129
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.
LitCharts A+ members also get exclusive access to:
- Downloadable translations of every Shakespeare play and sonnet
- Downloads of 876 LitCharts Lit Guides
- Explanations and citation info for 20,299 quotes covering 876 books
- Teacher Editions for every Lit Guide
- PDFs defining 136 key Lit Terms