‘Errata’ is an interesting love-poem written by the African American poet Kevin Young. Unlike all the traditional love poems, this modern lyric doesn’t follow a straightforward expression of emotions. The poet Kevin Young deliberately uses the wrong spellings of words for provoking an unconventional sense. A reader has to deal with the sound of the words for getting the right meaning. Whereas in some cases the poet interchanges the first letter of neighboring words. Apart from that, the title of the poem, ‘Errata’ comes from the Latin word “erratum” meaning error.
Summary of Errata
The speaker of the poem requests his beloved to give him just one more kiss at the beginning. They must make it happen fast and forever. Thereafter, the speaker says he wants to hold her in his arms and never let her go. He loves her so much that at times it hurts. Moreover, the speaker badly wants to kiss her and wants to hear her whisperings close to his ears. It makes him weak at the knees without her. At last, the speaker asks her to marry him and by this song, he will show how much he loves her.
You can read the full poem here.
The poem ‘Errata’ by Kevin Young is a free verse poem. The poem consists of eleven two-line stanzas and a few one-line stanzas. The single-line stanzas mark a shift of ideas in this poem. There are some instances where the poet uses slant rhymes. Here, the internal rhyming helps the poet to maintain the flow of the poem. Apart from that, the metrical pattern of the poem is also irregular. Mostly the poem contains iambic feet with several variations. However, the overall poem is in first-person point-of-view. Hence, it is an example of a love-lyric.
Kevin Young uses several literary devices in this poem. The poem begins with an apostrophe. Thereafter, the poet uses onomatopoeia in the usage of the word “hiss”. Here, the poet refers to the sound of breathing while kissing. In the following lines, there is hyperbole. In the line, “I want to cold you”, there is a metaphor in “cold”. Here, the speaker wants to give solace to his beloved by hugging her in his arms. Moreover, there is a paradox in the lines, “I live you so much/ it perts!” The poet uses alliteration in “neat nothings”. Thereafter, in the following two stanzas, he uses rhetorical questions. Apart from that, there is a repetition of the lines, “Baby, give me just/ one more kiss.” Each time, Young distorts the spelling of the words in this line to bring out a new meaning.
Analysis of Errata
Baby, give me just
one more hiss
& never get lo
The poem, ‘Errata’ begins with the speaker’s urge to kiss his beloved. The speaker implores her to give him just one more kiss. Here, the poet writes “hiss” in place of “kiss”. By using this sound, the poet refers to the sound of her breath during kissing. Thereafter, the speaker says they must make it happen fast and forever. In this stanza, the poet writes “lake” in place of “make” and “moreover” for “forever”. Such a deliberate mistake reflects the speaker’s mental state. It seems as if he is intoxicated in love and writing this poem for his beloved.
The speaker wants to hold her in his arms and never let her go. Again, the poet misspells words. He writes, “cold” for “hold” and “harms” for “arms”. But it is interesting to note here that both the correct and the incorrect words make sense here. In “never get lo”, the interchange of the first letters of “let go” also makes sense. Here, the speaker may be saying that his beloved will never get lost if he is with her.
I live you so much
All light wrong?
The speaker begins with a paradox in this section. He says that love sometimes hurts. If one loves someone more than himself, her absence hurts him. It’s natural. In these lines, the poet writes “live” for “love” and “perts” for “hurts”. Thereafter, the speaker urges his beloved to kiss once more. Here, the poet doesn’t write “hiss” for “kiss”, rather he writes “bliss”. When the speaker kisses her, it makes everything blissful around him. Moreover, he asks her to whisper her “neat nothings” in his ear. While kissing lovers don’t say anything. Their “neat nothings” express everything. The speaker asks her whether they can hold each other for one more time. Here, the poet interchanges the first letters of “more time”. Thereafter, through the line, “All light wrong” the poet says “all life long”.
Baby give me just
one more briss
With this sing
I’ll thee shed
In this section, the speaker knowingly misspells the word “kiss” and writes “briss”. Briss is a Jewish ceremony. The speaker feels so happy that it feels he is in a ceremony while kissing his beloved. He refers to her as his “won & homely”. The correct spelling of this phrase is, “one and only”. By saying this, the speaker expresses his dedication to her. Thereafter, he says she makes him weak in the knees. Here, he writes “meek” for “weak” and “knees” for “needs”. The line containing the incorrect words also presents a similar kind of meaning.
Thereafter, he proposes to her to marry him. And, again requests her to kiss him for one more time. At last, the speaker says through this song he will show her how much he loves her.
‘Errata’ by Kevin Young appears in his poetry collection “Jelly Roll” published in 2003. It’s a postmodern poem that improvises the conventional form of love-lyrics. In this poem, the poet even plays with the sound and spelling of the words. The overall form of the poem follows that of a lyric. But the representation of the stock ideas is exceptionally new and improvised. Apart from that, the poet uses words and the associated ideas known to the readers. While writing he deliberately uses words that are either similar to the sound of the word or spelling of the word. While reading, a reader can guess what the word should be. In this way, the poet decentralizes the ideas of day-to-day language. For the features mentioned here, the overall poem becomes an ideal example of a postmodern lyric.
Here is a list of a few poems that similarly present a lover’s feelings for his lady love as described in Kevin Young’s ‘Errata’.
- Ae Fond Kiss by Robert Burns – This poem tells of the unfortunate parting of two lovers and the speaker’s depression regarding the event.
- Fish Bouncing Kiss by Riyas Qurana – This poem describes the moment between two lovers consisting of several other memories.
- Romeo and Juliet Act I Scene 5 Sonnet by William Shakespeare – In this one of the greatest sonnets by Shakespeare, the poet describes the desire of Romeo and Juliet for each other.
- Valentine by Carol Ann Duffy – It’s one of the best Carol Ann Duffy poems and here the speaker interestingly presents her love for her partner.
You can also read about Best Love Poems for Her here.