Lust in Sonnet CXXIX (129)
A Savage Action Full of Blame - The essences of pure lust and its’ dark side. That is, in a word, what Shakespeare in his Sonnet CXXIX1 describes. His language is full of anger, frustration and self-blaming. A real, emotional, affected language - no flourishes. Shakespeare doesn't write about eternal love, the beauties of a woman or spiritual relations - all themes which we might expect from a classical sonnets. No - he talks about lust and the feeling of being dominated and helpless. And even a certain kind of vicious circle is strongly reflected in his choice of word and the atmosphere of the poem.
If we first take a brief look at the formal aspects of Shakespeare's Sonnet, we detect rather easily that it is presented in a very traditional way. Besides the classical end-rhyme scheme, we find a lot of examples ( e.g. line 11) of alliteration, which give the poem a very harmonic and smooth tone. But in analysing the formal aspects, there is a far more interesting and important point. The syntax of the poem already tell us a lot, especially about the word lust (l.2). In twelve of fourteen lines lust is the subject. To put it in another way, we can say that almost the whole poem is subjected - in the sense of being dominated, ruled by something - to lust.
This fact concerning the syntax, leads us to the first step of interpretation, namely the characteristics of lust. It seems, in accordance with the poem, that lust is something strong, domineering and taking possession. But not only the syntax of the first sentence leads us to such a definition of lust; the words - or in general: the language - in the poem speaks for itself:
"...and till action, lust
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...d, one strongly feels the obsession, the madness and the extreme, because his language clearly reflects these ideas, too. And also Shakespeare's impressing use of obvious and hidden dualistic expressions, makes the reader part of his vicious circle. I think Shakespeare manages to present us a very apt - and also very beautiful - description of lust: The essence of the dark side of lust built up by helplessness, anger , frustration and the knowing that this vicious circle of attraction and domination will never end.
1 Shakespeare, William: Sonnet CXXIX, Norton Anthology of Poetry, fourth edition, London, p. 240
1 Marquis de Sade (1710 - 1814) : French writer who, with the ideas of his literary works, coined the expression 'sadism'
2 taken from the lecture "Poetic Movements" from Martin Heusser at University of Zurich, 3.5.2000