Original Text

Modern Text

Th' expense of spirit in a waste of shame
Is lust in action, and till action, lust
Is perjured, murd'rous, 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.
Sex is a way of squandering vital energy while incurring shame. In anticipation of sex, lust makes people murderous, violent, blameworthy, savage, extreme, rude, cruel, and untrustworthy. No sooner do people enjoy sex than they immediately despise it. They go to absurd lengths in its pursuit only to hate it out of all proportion once they’ve had it, insisting it was put in their path on purpose to make them crazy. They’re extreme when they’re pursuing sex, extreme when they’re having it, and extreme once they’ve had it. It’s blissful while you’re doing it and, once you’re done, a true sorrow. While you’re anticipating it, it seems like a joy; afterward, like a bad dream. The world knows all this very well, yet no one knows enough to avoid the heavenly experience that leads us to this hell.

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