The missing virtue in most men, he knew,
Is temperance, midway betwixt extremes
Of hot and cold, a lack that causes rue
Yet generates the best dramatic themes:
Thus Romeo and Juliet, inflamed
By passion’s torch, prepare for their escape
From violent Verona and its maimed
Inhabitants—yet find their tomb agape.
And likewise Hamlet, proving passion’s slave,
In rashness stabs the foolish counselor,
Thus sealing his own journey to the grave,
A fate that flights of angels would deplore.
But Shakespeare’s stock and trade depended on
Intemperance that leaves us woe-begone.