Consider “The Fall of Rome,” from W.H. Auden’s (pre-conversion) collection Another Time. Despite the Roman backdrop and the mention of reindeer, this poem has nothing to do with Christmas, unless, perhaps, we are meant to notice its absence. A good poem for the end of Advent.
The piers are pummeled by the waves;
In a lonely field the rain
Lashes an abandoned train;
Outlaws fill the mountain caves.
Fantastic grow the evening gowns;
Agents of the Fisc pursue
Absconding tax-defaulters through
The sewers of provincial towns.
Private rites of magic send
The temple prostitutes to sleep;
All the literati keep
An imaginary friend.
Cerebrotonic Cato may
Extol the Ancient Disciplines,
But the muscle-bound Marines
Mutiny for food and pay.
Caesar’s double-bed is warm
As an unimportant clerk
Writes I DO NOT LIKE MY WORK
On a pink official form.
Unendowed with strength or pity,
Little birds with scarlet legs,
Sitting on their speckled eggs,
Eye each flu-infected city.
Altogether elsewhere, vast
Herds of raindeer move across
Miles and miles of golden moss,
Silently and very fast.