Union Jack

     English Wordplay ~ Listen and Enjoy

Previous Sonnet

   Sonnet 129

an excellent biography a useful reference book

In William Shakespeare, His Life and Work by Anthony Holden: "There would seem to be a subtext expressing Shakespeare's exasperation with the perils concomitant with sexual pleasure."

The Rough Guide to Shakespeare by Andrew Dickson: 'Spirit' can mean semen. Hell was Elizabethan slang for vagina.

Eric Partridge's guide to bawdy in Shakespeare
Read by Claire Marchionne
Please click
to listen

In Eric Partridge's Shakespeare's Bawdy: Bacon in Sylva Sylvarum writes: "It hath been observed by the ancients that much use of Venus doth dim the sight … The cause of dimness of sight is the expense of spirits".
"Waste" can also be read as "Waist".

Th' 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;
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 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.

Next Sonnet: 130

   Introduction to the Sonnets

   Home Page