Belfast Confetti Analysis by Ciaran Carson

In this article, we are going to analyzing the poem Belfast Confetti by Ciaran Carson.

Analysis of Belfast Confetti:

The poem describes the violent conflict between protesters and security forces in Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland was an area that is historically steeping in conflict because of the and the clashes between the Protestant unionists and the Catholic nationalists. This poem reflects how this was a part of everyday life in Northern Ireland and this describes the one particular conflict and that could be any conflict between protestors and the security forces.


it was raining exclamation marks,

  • No regular meter nor rhyme scheme
  • Use of end stops and enjambement

The lack of a regular meter shows that there is no formal rhythmic pattern to the poem. Coupled with the lack of a rhyme scheme shows that there is no order on the streets of Belfast because of the conflict.

The end stops and enjambement reinforce this lack of order and consitency.


Beginning the poem in medias res (in the midst of things) throws the reader immediately into the action. The word 'suddenly' suggests something prior to the start of the poem and creates a sense of action and confusion.

The differing line lengths further reinforce a sense of confusion. The reader's eyes have to traverse the page on a wide plane, the indenting of the shorter lines mean we almost have to read backward.


The blunt language reflects the harsh and brutal action that is being described. The structure of the lines as lists removes any emotional context from the language.

The street names and description of the security forces highlight how conflict and violence are a part of the landscape and environment of Belfast.


The euphemism of the title describes the objects used as missiles by protesters in the city. Confetti suggests a happy occasion but the reality is that it signifies a violent protest.

Belfast Confetti Analysis

The image of punctuation shows a breakdown in communication. The speaker is unable to find the right words and instead speaks in punctuation marks. The punctuation is also used to create visual images of the events being described: the 'asterisk on the map' (*) is an explosion and the 'hyphenated line' (-----) is gun fire.


Why can't I escape?

A fusillade of the question- marks.

  • Doubt and uncertainty
  • Frustration in the speaker

The repetition of the questions in the poem shows the doubt and uncertainty in Northern Ireland at the time. There is a sense of frustration in the speaker as there is an apparent lack of answers. The final line gives no hope of an answer,just more questions adding to the frustrated tone of the poem.

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