‘Or gluttoning on all, or all away’

Madonna once sang to have and not to hold… As wise and selfless as it sounds, Shakespeare’s greedy, possessive and dramatic approach to loving is far more touching and exciting.


So are you to my thoughts as food for life,

Or as sweet-seasoned showers are to the ground;

And for the peace of you I hold such strife

As ‘twixt a miser and his wealth found.

Now proud as an ejoyer, and anon

Doubting the fliching age will steal his treasure,

Now counting best to be with you alone;

Then bettered that the world may see my pleasure,

Sometime all full with feasting on your sight,

And by and by clean starved for a look,

Possessing or pursuing in no delight

Save what is had, or must from you be took.

Thus do I pine and surfeit day by day,

Or gluttoning on all, or all away.


I know the illustration to this sonnet might come as a surprise: Shakespeare’s loving is oppressive, stifling, while Chagall’s lovers are always lightly flying in the air… But I guess it’s what passion is about; wings & weight, delight & starvation, storms & sweet-seasoned showers…

And may the world see my pleasure!

Marc Chagall – The Birthday


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