Is lust in action; and till action, lust
Is perjured, 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 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 shameful expending of spirit in sex is the realization of lust, which till realized is perjurious, homicidal, blameworthy, savagely wild, extreme, rude, cruel, untrustworthy. Sex is enjoyed in its instant but hated (and self -hating) right after. Sex is sought past all reason and then when over irrationally despised as though it was a taken lure designed to make its taker insane. Insane when chasing it and while having it, we are wild and desperate after it, during it and in questing it. Its ecstasy proves its delight, which once proved, proves its very sadness. It promise beckons joy, finished, an unreality. The world well knows all that is maddeningly destructive about sex but doesn’t know well or how to avoid the momentary ecstatic bliss that takes all to the very hell it creates.
...Poor Will. But a great expression of how awful lust can be.
... I'm not even sure about sheer lust. It's a kind of anti ideal....it's awful--before during and after--just like the bard said. I don't count one night stands as sheer lust necessarily, nor do I count really driven sex but with someone you have feelings for.
...lust (without) attraction, indeed the reverse, but persists. I suspect that in Sh's and many other cases it is ambivalence about sex itself, ie one desires but hates the fact that one does...
Interesting point about the sonnet's torturing--to the sonnetteer--central paradox being rooted in complicated and intense feelings about sex as such. I don't read the poem that way, though it adds an interesting possible dimension of meaning. I read the poem as focusing on sex detached from all fondness--sheer lust--a kind of decontextualized drive and striving, where human fondness would normally provide the context. Sort of like an addiction to pornography. By the way, pornography, which is the portrayal of decontextualized sex, can by its very nature lend insight into the sonnet, I think.
When one gets to lust that is divorced from even any attraction, let alone divorced from any fondness, one is really in an intensely wierd, utterly, utterly dehumanized place.
I sure agree with the last, eloquent statement. But not the part about Sh, there is a long tradition of sex as different from (not a culmination of) love. It was a common saying that age freed one from the tyranny of sex. And on and on. But kings and their mistresses and the occasional letters that indicate a good marriage suggest that there was some sanity.
Roger, I’m a bit familiar with the Christian tradition—say, as opposed to the Hebraic—of sexual abstemiousness to the extreme of sheer revulsion by the body. And I’m a bit familiar with the poetic (and other) romanticization of love at the expense of, and in the repression and suppression of, sex and sexuality. But my wondering-out-loud point/question is my unfamiliarity with any such themes or preoccupations in Shakespeare’s poetry or plays, save to subvert them. What am I missing, if anything, in his work that goes to the deep sexual ambivalence rooted in sexual antipathy you see in his poem? Just lightly to moot the point, I’d think that presence or absence of these themes and concerns—sexual amibivalence rooted in antipathy itself rooted in Christian aversion to sex and sexuality—in his work helps inform the context for reading Sonnet 129. We seem to read it with different emphases. I only raise this because it’s fun and interesting. To me Sonnet 129 is continuous with what I remember of Troilus and Cressida.Roger:
I am a loss as to how you read the poem. It actually seems quite pagan to me, it sounds like classical philsophers who bemoan the irrationality of desire. But how exactly do you read the poem? What does itr subvert? The new tendenc to romantiize sex?
Roger, I read the poem as an anguished exploration of the drives and preoccupations of lust, and of lust as detached from any context of fondness or human relationship, the sin of lust treated psychologically and physically rather than religiously. The sonnet means not to subvert anything and I didn't mean to convey that it did. I think what I disagree with you about on it--if I have you right-- is that I don't think it is concerned with the irrationality of desire as such but rather with lust as detached, sheer sexuality, an animalism, unadorned by the human. This poet, I'd argue, has no/would have no problem by the evidence of this poem with desire enfolded into human relationship.
I agree, irrational is irrelevant.