Th’expense of Spirit in a Waste of Shame

Entirely based on William Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 129.” The first movement, subtitled “The Text,” recites the poem via a “speaking” cello. The two following movements, subtitled “Before” and “Behind” proceed to portray and juxtapose the two notions of manic excitement and shameful woe, both associated with lust and the madness and misfortune which it generates.

The poem in its entirety is below (you can follow the cello’s recitation of it throughout the first movement):

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.

-William Shakespeare, Sonnet 129

Th’Expense of Spirit in a Waste of Shame

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