Reference > William Shakespeare > The Oxford Shakespeare > Poems

William Shakespeare (1564–1616).  The Oxford Shakespeare: Poems.  1914.

Sonnet CXXIX.

“The expense of spirit in a waste of shame”

THE EXPENSE of spirit in a waste of shame 
Is lust in action; and till action, lust 
Is perjur’d, murderous, bloody, full of blame, 
Savage, extreme, rude, cruel, not to trust; 
Enjoy’d no sooner but despised straight;         5
Past reason hunted; and no sooner had, 
Past reason hated, as a swallow’d bait, 
On purpose laid to make the taker mad: 
Mad in pursuit, and in possession so; 
Had, having, and in quest to have, extreme;  10
A bliss in proof,—and prov’d, a very woe; 
Before, a joy propos’d; 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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