Confession: Shakespeare in Lust

venus_and_adonisVenus and Adonis photo by griannan

Our contributor Lisa DiCarlucci, a Print Journalism major and English minor at Hofstra University, has a confession to make:

The expense of spirit in a waste of shame
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.

I am blushing as my English professor reads aloud this excerpt from Shakespeare’s 129th Sonnet because it perfectly describes my relationship with the boy sitting next to me in class — the boy whose bones I can’t help but want to jump.

Let’s call him William. This is not the first class I’ve had with William. We sat across from each other in another class and I thought he was insightful, funny, adorable. He’s the mysterious academic with an off-beat sense of humor — my favorite type. While I was completely attracted to him at the time, I was involved with someone else and swept my feelings under the rug. A few months ago, my newly single self decided to strike up a conversation with William and our chemistry was apparent from the get-go. We began talking regularly and eventually started hanging out, which mostly consisted of him coming over, watching a movie, and making out with me.

One particularly passionate evening I attempted to seal the deal, but as that other William once said, alcohol “provokes the desire but it takes away the performance.” So my desire was provoked but his performance was, well, lacking. Our goodbye that night was awkward as a result, but he seemed
genuinely eager to see me again….

We talked every once in a while after that, but he acted distant and disinterested. I clung desperately to the hope, as I so often do, that things would get better soon. We were going to be taking a Shakespeare class together in a few weeks and I was sure that the romantic subject matter combined with the low-cut shirts I planned on wearing to class would be the perfect solution to our dry spell. Then again, I tend to be very wrong about these things.

He sat next to me, sure, and made polite conversation, but it was hardly the spark I had hoped for. He might as well have turned to me and said “Get thee to a nunnery.”

O what a war of looks was then between them, Her eyes petitioners to his eyes suing! His eyes saw her eyes as they had not seen them; Her eyes wooed still, his eyes disdained the wooing.

It seemed like my professor was reading my mind and not “Venus and Adonis” as she recited these words. The connection was too obvious, too appropriate for William not to recognize it. Yet he sat there, expressionless.

I was frustrated, and since “lust stirs up a desperate courage,” I asked William after class if he wanted come over and watch a movie later that week. He said he would call me Wednesday. He did not call me on Wednesday. He did not call on any day. When I went to our next class, I said nothing and he said nothing.

My professor spoke of Venus’s utter frustration over the fact that she couldn’t cure her lust with Adonis. I couldn’t believe the coincidence! How could he listen to these words, not understand my plight, and not take me in his arms after class? Wouldn’t he at least want to give it the old college try one more time?

Love comforteth like sunshine after rain, But Lust’s effect is tempest after sun; Love’s gentle spring doth always fresh remain, Lust’s winter comes ere summer half be done; Love surfeits not Lust like a glutton dies; Love is all truth, List full of forged lies.

My first thought was, “ugh, you don’t have to tell me twice.” But then I started to think of how completely ridiculous I was being. Okay, so the parallels were uncanny, but the poem was fantasy, and the reality was William didn’t really give a shit. I could sit here obsessing and analyzing until my brain hurt, but that wouldn’t make him want me any more. Maybe he wasn’t into it because he was humiliated, or because he feared a repeat performance (or should I say lack of performance?), or because he just wasn’t into me.

Whatever the reason, I finally understood that neither Shakespeare nor I could bring us together. If I was to learn anything from this poetry, it’s that “Passion on passion deeply is redoubled” — and that’s something worth waiting for.


  1. Doubt thou the stars are fire;
    Doubt that the sun doth move;
    Doubt truth to be a liar;
    But never doubt I love.

  2. Hi thanks for using my picture for this entry. In future would you kindly leave a comment letting me know that you did. I am happy to share and contribute but would like to know that I am doing so. Oh and asking before hand would isn’t a bad idea either. good luck with the blog.

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