You are not currently logged in. Please create an account or log in to view the full course.

Conflict (Edexcel Poetry Anthology)

11. Ciaran Carson, Belfast Confetti (1989)

This is the course trailer. Please create an account or log in to view this lecture.

  • Description
  • Cite

About this Lecture


In this module, we read through Ciaran Carson’s ‘Belfast Confetti’, focusing in particular on: (i) the idea of words as weapons; (ii) the impossibility of committing the chaos of war into the order of a poem; (iii) the language of the poem – especially he long list of wars and military hardware; and (iv) the meaning and impact of the series of questions that ends the poem.


In this course, Professor John McRae (University of Nottingham) explores the fifteen poems that make up the ‘Conflict’ cluster for GCSE English Literature (Edexcel). Each poem is read in full, with a short commentary highlighting aspects of language, style, themes, motif, and so on. In the case of Blake’s ‘A Poison Tree’, for example, we think about the concepts of innocence and experience and the symbolism of the apple. When we come to Byron’s ‘The Destruction of Sennacherib’, we focus on the figure of Sennacherib and the rhythm of the poem. And so on for the rest of the collection.

The poems discussed in this course are:
1. William Blake, A Poison Tree (1794)
2. Lord Byron, The Destruction of Sennacherib (1815)
3. William Wordsworth, The Prelude: Stealing the Boat (1798-1850)
4. Thomas Hardy, The Man He Killed (1902)
5. Christina Rossetti, Cousin Kate (1862)
6. John Agard, Half-Caste (2005)
7. Wilfred Owen, Exposure (1917)
8. Alfred Lord Tennyson, The Charge of the Light Brigade (1854)
9. Gillian Clarke, Catrin (1978)
10. Carole Satyamurti, War Photographer (1987)
11. Ciaran Carson, Belfast Confetti (1989)
12. Mary Casey, The Class Game (1979)
13. Jane Weir, Poppies (2009)
14. Benjamin Zephaniah, No Problem (1996)
15. Denise Levertov, What Were They Like? (1967)


John McRae is Special Professor of Language in Literature Studies and Teaching Associate in the School of English at Nottingham University, and holds Visiting Professorships in China, Malaysia, Spain and the USA. He is co-author of The Routledge History of Literature in English with Ron Carter, and also wrote The Language of Poetry, Literature with a Small 'l' and the first critical edition of Teleny by Oscar Wilde and others.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

McRae, J. (2019, March 06). Conflict (Edexcel Poetry Anthology) - Ciaran Carson, Belfast Confetti (1989) [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

McRae, J. "Conflict (Edexcel Poetry Anthology) – Ciaran Carson, Belfast Confetti (1989)." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 06 Mar 2019,

Image Credits