Sonnet 96

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Sonnet 96

Some say thy fault is youth, some wantonness;
Some say thy grace is youth and gentle sport;
Both grace and faults are lov'd of more and less:
Thou mak'st faults graces that to thee resort.
As on the finger of a throned queen
The basest jewel will be well esteem'd,
So are those errors that in thee are seen
To truths translated, and for true things deem'd.
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.

–William Shakespeare

Sonnet 96 is one of 154 sonnets written by the English playwright and poet William Shakespeare. It is a member of the Fair Youth sequence, in which the poet expresses his love towards a young man.


The youth's errors are blamed on his age, but others say young gentlemen should enjoy themselves. The youth's faults appear to be charms, just as poor-quality jewels on a queen appear to be more valuable by their association with her. The follies of the youth appear to be truths that some may want to erroneously emulate, like wolves who appear to be lambs and lead the lambs astray. The youth could do the same, but should not do so, because the poet's disapproval of such behavior undermines his good report of the youth, and such behaviour will also reflect badly on the poet.