The poem ‘Belfast Confetti illustrates the aftermath of a bomb during the troubles that people in Belfast experienced. The title ‘Belfast Confetti’ is a heading that has a dual meaning. On one had the homemade bombs that the IRA used are referred to as Belfast confetti due to the nuts and bolts they put in the shrapnel. The second is more complicated. Confetti is usually used in times of celebration such as weddings, which is strange as the poem is about something completely different to a celebration. It is usually thrown over the heads of the bride and the groom, so it rains down on them. Carson may be using that title to create a metaphor; the nuts and bolts flew over the head of people just like confetti does. Carson presents the poem with widespread references to punctuation marks using words such as ‘Exclamation Marks’ and ‘Sentence’. “It was raining exclamation marks” this is trying to represent the noises made by falling shrapnel.
Generally, exclamation marks are used when someone is shouting or when words need to be emphasised. As you can imagine, the noise of the bombs and chaos it caused must have had a huge effect on the noises that were being heard, people screaming, sirens sounding and huge fires blazing. To understand the poem you have to delve deeper into the meaning of the way in which the title of the poem is worded. This poem is very chaotic which matches this experience. The poet also does not present any type of metre or rhythm, this could be because he wanted the poem to be seen and read with the confusion which the people felt after the bomb was detonated. This gives the poem more reality than it would do if there was a clear structure to it. Analysing the lines in the poem, I can see a trend of contradictions and dual meanings. For example “All the alleyways and side streets blocked with stops and colons” on the outside this line tells us that the escape what blocked and there was no way out of the chaos.
Although looking at the line with more depth, that what is discoverable is that what is trying to be said is that there is no escape because of the violence in general. Using the word “stops” and “colons” could refer to the writers own beliefs. Carson may be trying to get a message across that all is being done to try and stop the attacks is through the Governments use of meetings and laws. Ironically, I think the author is trying to say we need to urgently tackle this violence with actions rather than letters and meetings, hence the quote “Alleyways and side streets blocked by stops and colons” meaning by lack of action there is no escape.
Furthermore, another example of these contradictions is the line “I know this labyrinth so well – Balaklava, Raglan, Inkerman, Odessa Street” This quote tells us that the author has a connection with these streets and knows his way round them. Carson compares the streets to a labyrinth, meaning the place where a man eating Minotaur lived and was said to be built like a maze, derived from Greek Mythology. This tells us that the streets were like a maze, probably due to the chaos and that there were dead people around. A bomb could be associated with the Minotaur as it was the cause of the deaths and streets to be its home as it is the place he kills.
The overall message of the poem is to educate the readers of what it was like to be involved in a bombing. I also believe that the poem is trying to portray a message of invasion. His hometown was getting destroyed in front of him and the only way he believed he could teach people about this was through poetry. The fact that he chose to express his emotions through poetry is a really interesting way of getting his point across. The whole poem is an extended metaphor which shows the conflict and how chaotic the poem is.
Courtney from Study Moose
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