William Shakespeare - 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.

Άλλοι είναι λεν της νιότης φταίσμα, άλλοι λαγνεία,
άλλοι, είναι παιχνιδιάρα χάρη νεανική·
φταίσμα είτε χάρη, σε όλους φέρνει γοητεία,
κάνεις το φταίσμα χάρη, αν στο παιχνίδι εσύ:
καθώς στο δάχτυλο βασίλισσας με στέμμα
εχτίμηση μια πέτρα παίρνει, η πιο χυδαία,
έτσι και κάθε σου παράβαση και ψέμα
περνάν γι’ αλήθειες και για πράματα σπουδαία.
Ο λύκος πόσα αρνιά ο φονιάς θα ’χε πατήσει,
αν μπορούσε να μεταμορφωθεί σε αρνί,
πόσους θεατές σου θα ξεμαύλιζες, αν χρήση
θα ’κανες όλης της γοητείας σου ικανή!
Μα μην το κάνεις, γιατί τόσο σ’ αγαπώ,
που ’ναι δικό μου τ’ όνομά σου το καλό.

Μετάφραση: Βασίλης Ρώτας

The youth is gently accused of libertinism and sensuality, and given a warning not to use the power of his beauty over others to its full effect. For they would all be led as lambs to the slaughter, and the young man's reputation might suffer as a result. Yet since the two lovers are one, a slanderous report is damaging to both, and the poet therefore wishes to keep both his own and the youth's reputation unsullied.
This is the last of a group of six sonnets, 91-6, which analyse the youth's character in the light of alleged misdemeanours. The tone is one of gentle remonstrance, rather than foetid and festering recrimination, which is what it was verging on in previous sonnets. Here there is more calm and a philosophic detachment, with an echo, perhaps deliberate, from an earlier sonnet. It could be that the poet is beginning to distance himself from his former passions, and now begins to look upon the history of his love with a distant eye, as if it were something experienced by another, which he may now safely analyse and comment on.


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