Poem Review: Bose Ayeni-Tsevende’s “IT Was Not Christmas Yet”


Bose Ayeni-Tsevende has often been described as poet of all ages. She simplifies poetry and tells you deeply in words that make you not forget to remember the beauty in poems. A former Dance and Choreography lecturer at the department of Theater and Film Arts, University of Jos, Bose has acted, performed and mimed in all forms of stage performances.

She is a dancer, choreographer, poet, a mother and grandmother of many children.
Some of her works include:
1. Introduction To Dance and Choreography- The basics
2. The Man Lives (drama)
3. U Are A Poet (poetry)
4. Streams (poetry) [It was nominated for ANA / Cadbury Award 2010]
5. Pieces Of Peace (poetry)


Read Her Poem Before The Review Below:

Bose Ayeni Tsevende | IT Was Not Christmas Yet








I did not want to tell you
But you must have heard
The blast was heaven-bound!
The blast shook the earth!

Was it also Christmas eve in heaven?
Here, it was,
The eve of chicken slaying
The eve of chicken frying
The eve of last minute buying

That tomato that wouldn’t do
That toy for junior
That cabbage for jollof rice
That extra profit,
Awaited all year long,
A chance to earn enough for the rent.

The crowd was thick
Not a chance to move,
Many were selling,
Many were buying,
Many were chatting,
Many were laughing
Many were haggling,
And then,

Limbs flew,
Eyes blinded…
Legs halved
Another bomb blast,
More tummy blasts
More heads blown off
And the earth stood
For a moment on one leg.

Then the rush,
To help,
The dead,
The yet to die,
The ones wishing for death

Another bomb blast,
To blast the remnants,
The help givers


I did not want to tell you
But you saw from the windows of heaven,
The death toll,
As they arrived heaven’s gate,
Some hopped in on one leg
Some rolled on buttocks,
Many without arms,
Many without their heads
Many, only God could identify

And you saw the tears ,
Of us left,
To mourn our departed
With no Christmas to celebrate

I didn’t want to tell you,
I rehearsed the carols
I fried the chicken
I dressed the children,
I dried my tears,
In hope of peace,
Just for you.




Set inside the thirsty throat of the era of the Jos crises in Plateau State, “It Was Not Christmas Yet” by Bose Ayeni-Tsevende tells in a semi-narrative language, of the proverbial “calm before the storm.” How the gathering of beautiful people preparing to celebrate a religious festival, became a feild of carcasses.

The poem which is divided into 10 stanzas of irregular rhyme scheme began with the poet addressing someone whom she holds dear. She had an “open secret.” The gravity of the blast made it impossible to hold the news from her dearly departed. She didn’t want to tell her beloved, but she implies that he must have heard because “the blast was heaven-bound,” “the blast shook the earth,” so one would assume that it woke her beloved from sleep. A blast “heaven-bound” would definitely obstruct the preparation processes up above. So he should have heard without a doubt. But to be sure, she also wanted to know in a rhetorical tone whether it was actually christmas eve in heaven too. Because on earth it was

“the eve of chicken slaying
the eve of chicken frying
the eve of last minute buying”

She tells of how that eve that married people to memories as they got back home to celebrate was long awaited for, only to be cut short by the hands of aggressive flames and thick smoke.

Before the blast, the poet describes that the crowd was like a cloud; so thick. The gathering at the market place had many people selling, buying, chatting, laughing and haggling. And then comes the recurrent demon; the BLAST!!

Bose’s choice of images painted more than mental pictures; they put one in the situation of the event where limbs flew, eyes were blinded, legs halved, tummies blasted, and heads were blown off, leaving the “earth to stand for a moment on one leg.” Such unusual personification was seen in the era of Shakespeare.

She reveals that while somewhere still alive on this field of carcasses,and trying to help the dead and the dying, another blast embraces that eve.

The mood is tense,unsettling, grappling, happy and then hurting. Bose tells in repetitive rhetoric how she didn’t want to tell her dearly departed, but he saw the bodies as “they arrived heaven’s gate” through the metaphorical “heaven’s window,” some dead, some alive, and some waiting to die.

The 9th stanza tells of how these concatenation of mishaps stole Christmas away from earth, and left the poet and the other survivors to mourn their loss. The theme is one of sorrow, joliment, celebration,  transience of life, death, the believe in life after death, and wished to be forgotten memories. She didn’t want to tell her dearly departed, but she did. And he already knew…

The poet employed the use of imagery, personification, metaphor, repetition, hyperbole, alliteration, assonance, anaphora, apostrophe, rhetorical question, and a few rhymes.



The poem consists of ten stanzas with irregular rhyme patterns .The stanzas can be seen as free verses . The title and some clauses in the poem give an idea of the time of the year of which the poet writes about. Her use of words enabled her to paint a perfect picture of the happening she did not want to “tell”.

The poet employed the use of various figures of speech such as: Metaphors,Understatement ,Chiasmus and rhetorical question. The poet also uses devices such as repetition and makes emphasis on the the word “blast” which serves as the primary subject of the poem.

The central theme of the poem is sorrow. Uncertainty, death and confusion can also be seen as sub themes. The mood of the poet is a gloomy one which conveyed a tone that is melancholic. The poem is narrative in nature.



The diction of the poem is not difficult, even with words like haggling. Nevertheless, the words are easily fused to give a simple theme to the poem

Indeed, it is an irony of the situation that had a cheerful beginning with a thought of a celebration ending with a crouching thought of pain.

The poet uses this device to pass the message, the repetition but of activities in the poem examples; The eve…. That…… Many were….. More…. etcetera.

The celebration of Christmas gave a highlight of joy, happiness and laughter counting or looking forth to having the event, when it is cut short with the blast. The theme divides the poem into two sections, one of joy and one of sadness. And even though the poet tries to move on at the end of the poem, the pain still lingers making the reader quickly forget the happiness in the first few lines of the poem.

The tone of the poem is of two sides, the joy of the coming Christmas and the pain and loss caused with the blast.

The first stanza has 4 lines with iambic meter of 6,5,6,5

The second stanza has 5 lines with iambic meter as follows 10,3,7,7,8 and rhyme scheme of a, b, c, c, c.

Stanza 3 has 6 lines with rhyme scheme 8, 5, 7, 5, 6, 9.

Stanza four has got 8 lines with more anaphora and rhyme of a, b, c, c, c, c, c, d. It has an iambic meter of 4 5 5 5 5 5 5 2.

Stanza five has 10 lines – a double of the stanza’s number to form the lines. No rhyme scheme or meter respected in this stanza, making it a free verse.

Stanza 6 has 6 lines with line 2 in uppercase to define a point as such of an onomatopoeia. No rhyme scheme accompanied this stanza or iambs.

Stanza Seven has 10 lines with the second line as an enjambment. Rhyme is hardly considered in this stanza as well of iambs.

Stanza Eight has four lines.

Stanza Nine has anaphora in over 5 lines with the last two irregular structured line making it a total of 7 lines.

There is a feeling of happiness expressed by the poet from the beginning of the poem until the true intention of the poet is revealed with pain.

-The blast was heaven-bound
-For a moment on one leg

The blast shook the earth (t alliterates)

That tomato that wouldn’t do (t alliterates).

A chance to earn enough for the rent (e assonance).



Theme: The piece circumvents around the theme, for me I can relate totally with the situation and the events about the theme and piece entirely. “It was not Christmas yet”, and the sounds heard were not of fireworks or firecrackers but of harmful explosives.

Structure: The writer employed a free form for writing the poem, with ten stanzas and no particular metre,she beautifully wove the words, with beautiful figures of speech.

Tone: The tone was sorrowful

Mood: The writer’s mood was melancholic in most stanzas and the madness in the second and fourth stanzas of the piece.

Atmosphere: The atmosphere was that of chaos.

The story in the poem explains vividly the ordeal of most people who experienced the multiple bombings in Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria on the evening of December 24th, 2011. She brings back the horrific memory with her amazing imagery.

May the souls of the victims and other victims of terror find peace. Amen


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