The Manor House, Ilkley

Elizabethan, so they say, certainly older

Than the church, not so well built, stones

Probably filched from some abbey, carried

By ox wagon down the dale at night.

Then lived in, inconveniently, the smoke

Filling the entire air, the animals

Taking the best positions, warm one side

The merciless draughts probing the fur.

For humans too, the constant gyration

To keep alive, wearing leather, homespun

Keeping the cattle indoors to generate heat

A rude life with fenestration grandiose.

Summer time, a cool cave, the stone floor

Beneficient the wide windows facing south

Bringing sun into the farthest corner

The fire but embers, lowly glowing.

The rafters normal construction, cut and carved

Notched and pegged no art or artifice, by

Rule of thumb, still stand, admired aesthetically

By jerry builders lost sons of craftsmen.

Then later, converted to a warren, partitioned,

A dolls house interior with pianos and

Wallpaper holding back the damp, water

Rising, falling, centuries of impregnation.

At last condemned for human habitation

The rotten core wrenched out, still stood

The walls, the wooden beams, like iron

The bones and sinews of a building.

And saved by expert and enlightenment

The past still preaching sermons in stones

Read by the faltering finger of archaeologist

A busman’s holiday for the architect.

Now ironically housing the future, graphic probes

Into tomorrow, a roof to protect the

Frail and tentative spring of vision

The handled beams framing the eyes device.