mad in pursuit


site map

chronological index

about me


Puebla, MexicoShakespeare: Sonnet 129

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 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.


This poem stuck with me since high school - who knows why. It's literally about lust but could be about any restless, addictive behavior. It's when you get a jones for something you know you're better off without. When you jump in the car at 3 A.M. to buy a pack of cigarettes. When you drink that third cosmopolitan, knowing you'll be sick as a dog in the morning. When one piece of fudge is too much and the whole pan is not enough. You know that the wiggling worm is attached to a hook, but you bite anyway. The perversity of human nature.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this sonnet: write