Raven on Kernal Crag

The Raven on Kernal Crag

A Raven alighted on Kernal Rock
Amid thunder's roar and earthquake's shock.
O'er the tumbling crags he rolled his eye
Round valley and lake, and hills and sky.
'Twas a gloomy world. He settled his head
Close into his shoulders and meekly said—
"Poor Raven!"

The Raven on Kernal Crag grew old:
A human voice up the valley rolled.
Bel was worshipp'd on mountain brows:
Men made huts of the forest boughs:
And wrapt in skins in ambush lay
At the base of his crag, and seized their prey.
An old Raven.

The Raven sat in his purple cloke.
A Roman column the silence broke.
He had watched the eagles around him fly:
He saw them perched on spears go by.
The legions marched from hill to hill.
He settled his feathers; and all was still—
Still was the Raven.

The Raven was thinking, on Kernal Stone.
The hammers of Thor he heard them groan:
Regin, and Korni, and Lodinn, and Bor,
Clearing the forests from fell to shore;
With Odin's bird on their banner upraised.
And he quietly said as he downward gazed—
"A Raven!"

The Raven on Kernal was musing still.
King Dunmail's hosts went up the hill,
In the narrow Pass, to their final fall.
With an iron gaze he followed them all;
Till, piled the cairn of mighty stones,
Was heaped the Raise o'er Dunmail's bones.
Ha! hungry Raven!

The Raven on Kernal saw, in a trance,
Knights with gorgeous banner and lance,
Castles, and towers, and ladies fair.
Music floating high on the air
Reached his nest on Kernal's Steep,
And broke the spell of his solemn sleep.
A lonely Raven.

That Raven is sitting on Kernal Rock;
Counting the lambs in a mountain flock.
Pleasant their bleat is, pleasant to hear,
Pleasant to think of; but shepherds are near.
Cattle are calling below in the vale,
Maidens singing a true-love tale.
List to them, Raven.

That Raven will sit upon Kernal Rock
Till the mountains reel in the world's last shock.
Till the new things come to end like old,
He will roll his eye, and his wings unfold,
And settle again; and his solemn brow
Draw close to his shoulders, and muse as now.
That Raven.

Notes to "the Raven on Kernal Crag."

Kernal Crag is a huge mass of solid rock, with a face of broken precipice, on the side of Coniston Old Man. In that unique and admirable Guide Book entitled "The Old Man; or Ravings and Ramblings round Conistone," it is said; "on this Crag, probably for ages, a pair of ravens have annually had their nest, and though their young have again and again been destroyed by the shepherds, they always return to this favourite spot; and frequently when one of the parents has been shot in the brooding season, the survivor has immediately been provided with another helpmate; and, what is still more extraordinary, and beautifully and literally illustrative of a certain impressive scripture passage—it happened a year or two since, that both the parent birds were shot, whilst the nest was full of unfledged young, and their duties were immediately undertaken by a couple of strange ravens, who attended assiduously to the wants of the orphan brood, until they were fit to forage for themselves."