School Outing In A Deserted Hamlet

We stand within an instance of the future
Dry-salvaging the past— note how the moss
Has colonised the crannied bricks and doorframes,
The cankered oak beams twenty feet across;
How grass and bramble pull to their embraces
The shattered tiles and mortar from the floor,
How martins now are nesting in the rafters,
And there, a rusty key still in a door
That once, perhaps, kept children from a pantry,
From bottled jam and cider on the blocks...
Take care! the nettles there conceal old bedsprings,
The cellar now is home to Mrs. Fox.

       Wood is strong— but time is stronger,
       Bricks and mortar sink to clay;
       Iron lives long— but rust lives longer,
       Wind and rain sweep all away.

And here, I think, we’ll find... the doorstep scraper...
Yes, here, you see, among these bindweed roots,
God help the sons and fathers in a hurry
Who failed to scrape the mud from off their boots!
And here a Belfast sink, now full of spiders
And droppings from a family of mice;
That crumbling work of art was once a mangle,
The cupboard in the corner held the spice.
I shouldn’t risk the stairs— the joists are rotten,
The bedrooms house a colony of bats,
The handle here pumped water from the wellhead,
These pegs held Sunday bonnets and best hats.

       Wood is strong— but time is stronger,
       Bricks and mortar sink to clay;
       Iron lives long— but rust lives longer,
       Wind and rain sweep all away.

All gone: the whitewashed fence, the byre, the orchard,
The privy, roofless now and soon to fall,
The garden choked with weeds, (save one survivor—
That damask rose you see upon the wall);
All gone, young friends; the wind and rain conspire
To grind away hard centuries of toil,
The beetling years, bedecked with rust and mildew,
Are mindless Goths, in league with famished soil.
We stand within an instance of the future,
Barbarians and levellers at the gate...
You laugh! but mould has little sense of humour:
60 Earth loves us little— if she knows no hate.
Wood is strong— but time is stronger,
Bricks and mortar sink to clay;
Iron lives long— but rust lives longer,
Wind and rain sweep all away.