Shakespeare Sonnet 96 Analysis, Some say thy fault is youth, some wantonness

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This is a short summary of Shakespeare sonnet 96. Continue reading for complete analysis and meaning in the modern text. For the complete list of 154 sonnets, check the collection of Shakespeare Sonnets with analysis. It is highly recommended to buy “The Monument” by Hank Whittemore, which is the best book on Shakespeare Sonnets

Shakespeare Sonnet 96 (Original Text)

Some say thy fault is youth, some wantonness,
Some say thy grace is youth and gentle sport;
Both grace and faults are loved of more and less;
Thou mak’st faults graces that to thee resort.
As on the finger of a thronèd queen
The basest jewel will be well esteemed,
So are those errors that in thee are seen
To truths translated, and for true things deemed.
How many lambs might the stern wolf betray,
If like a lamb he could his looks translate;
How many gazers mightst thou lead away,
If thou wouldst use the strength of all thy state!
But do not so. I love thee in such sort,
As thou being mine, mine is thy good report.
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Shakespeare Sonnet 96 Modern Text (Translation)

Shakespeare sonnet 96 translation in modern text

-via SparkNotes

Shakespeare Sonnet 96 Analysis

The poet tells the youth that people feel that his biggest fault is his young age “Some say thy fault is youth,” while others feel it is his irresponsible flirting “ some wantonness,”. Some people, on the other hand, feel that the youths best quality instead his age and playfulness “Some say thy grace is youth and gentle sport; the poet says that both are equally loved either more or less “Both grace and faults are loved of more and less;” and that the youth has the ability to turn his faults into subject of charm and attraction “Thou mak’st faults graces that to thee resort.”

Just like a queen on the throne on whose finger “As on the finger of a thronèd queen” even a useless jewel will seem valuable “The basest jewel will be well esteemed, “in the same way the faults in the youth “So are those errors that in thee are seen” are being regarded as good deeds instead “To truths translated, and for true things deemed.”

He compares the youth to a wolf in sheep’s clothing asking him how many innocent people will he fool “How many lambs might the stern wolf betray,” if he would like the world disguise himself as a lamb “If like a lamb he could his looks translate;” and how many people who gaze upon him will be lead astray “How many gazers mightst thou lead away,” if the youth uses all of his deceptive qualities “If thou wouldst use the strength of all thy state!”

The poet begs the youth not to do so because he loves the youth “But do not so. I love thee in such sort,” and because the youth is in a relationship with him, the poet’s reputation also depends on the behavior of the youth “As thou being mine, mine is thy good report”

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