To appreciate where his love of language and etymology originates from, it is perhaps worth considering Carson’s formative years growing up on the streets of Belfast. Born in 1948, Carson was raised in a house on Raglan Street, off the Falls Road in the west side of the city.
‘We spoke Irish before English, which I later learned off the street,’ Carson recalls. ‘Increasingly, it does seem that this bilingual upbringing does matter. My name is a paradigm of opposition: Ciaran, very Irish – meaning little dark-haired one – and Carson, the same name as the putative founding father of the state of Northern Ireland [Edward Carson].
‘We can never be wholly one thing or another, and ambiguity is essential to all poetry. Any proper poem divulges different meanings at different times. Even one’s own poems, which we think we know, mean different things each time we read them.’