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.