SONNET NO. 129
The expense of spirit in a waste of shame,
Is lust in action, and, till action, lust
Is purjured, murderous, bloody full of blame,
Savage, extreme, rude, cruel not to trust,
Injoyed no sooner but despised straight,
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,
A bliss in proof and provd and 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.
Note the repetition of the following words, we find-past
reason, past reason, mad, mad, mad, well knows, knows well.
1st Line. Expense = loss of spirit = vitality.
4th Line. Not to trust = treacherous.
10th Line. In guest to have in pursuit.
11th Line. Proved = experienced.
This sonnet is a terrible indictment of lust (an appetite
longing or eagerness to possess). We are told that lust in action
is the expense (expenditure) of spirit (a supposed subtle
substance in the body) in a waste of shame (disgrace). That all
men (the world) knows this but do not know how to shun (avoid) what leads men to this evil.
Bacon in his own writings tells us that "they all know who
have paid dear for serving and obeying lusts whether after
honour or riches or delight or glory or knowledge or anything else which they seek after but they (lusts) are but as things cast off and by divers men in all ages, after experience had utterly
rejected and loathed them."