Mount Dennison: An 84-year-old poem and painting about the place the Castle Fire seeks to consume

This poem and painting were originally published in the October 14, 2014, issue of The Kaweah Commonwealth. The poem was written by Nell Lovering (1881-1951); the watercolor was painted by Norma Hardison (1906-2004). They are the grandmother and mother, respectively, of Gaynor McKee of Three Rivers.

Dennison Mountain (elevation 8,678 feet) and the entire Dennison ridgeline is in the southernmost part of Sequoia National Park and stands sentinel over the South Fork of the Kaweah River and the residents who make their home in this canyon. It is an imposing and important feature of the area, which is now being threatened by the Castle Fire portion of the SQF Complex.

Views from the summit include the South Fork canyon, Blossom Peak, Homer’s Nose, the Kaweahs, Mineral King, and much of the Great Western Divide.

The Loverings and the Hardisons were beloved members of the South Fork community, first settling there in 1908. The poem and the painting were created in 1936.

There are many important articles to be read this week, including fire updates, weather and air quality forecasts, closures, and more. But, for now, shed a tear and feel the tug on the heart strings while reading this homage to a beautiful mountain that means so much to Three Rivers and is currently the theater of a dangerous and destructive battle:

This painting from 1936 pays tribute to a South Fork landmark.


Mount Dennison, Queen of the South Fork, 

You’re the greatest mountain of all.

As you stand at the head of the canyon,

And look o’er its rocky wall.

The River Kaweah beneath you,

Is wooing at your feet,

And the evening breezes whisper,

Through the pine trees, cool and sweet.

Fir trees grow low on your ridges,

Tall cliffs shade a verdant ravine,

Where blue shadows hide in the hollows,

And wild flowers blossom unseen.

A grey mist creeps about you,

Seeking to cover your face,

Like a veil of smoke, it clings and curls,

Then lifts to reveal your grace.

With glorious strength, you face the blast,

Rain clouds lie low on your breast.

And your lovely shoulders gleam snow white,

Where the cloak of winter rests.

Oh, mountain, enchanting, alluring,

Your beauty will always shine.

In all of your moods you are charming,

In every color divine.

From the fleecy mantle of ermine,

Worn to grace winter days,

You change to the garb of summer,

To delicate greens and greys.

Like a vain and frivolous lady,

Forever changing her clothes,

You turn from the blue of the morning,

To amethyst, mauve and rose.

And when the hand of darkness

Draws the curtain down,

You dress yourself the loveliest,

In a purple evening gown.

—Nell Lovering, 1936

7 thoughts on “Mount Dennison: An 84-year-old poem and painting about the place the Castle Fire seeks to consume

  • September 16, 2020 at 3:22 pm

    Moving… it might be inspiring to send this on to Cal Fire at SQF since they are trying to protect her. 🙂

  • September 16, 2020 at 5:52 pm

    A touching tribute. Thank you.

  • September 17, 2020 at 7:25 am

    Thank you for reposting this.

  • September 17, 2020 at 7:39 am

    How lovely and how poignant at a time like this! My dear Aunt Rannie Belle Baker always call this mountain “The Throne of the Gods” when I was little. At that time, we could even see it from my Grandpa D.C. Cole’s ranch in Woodlake!

  • September 17, 2020 at 7:58 am

    So beautiful! What a talented poet and it reminds me of how 3R residents Iove their place in the world.

  • September 17, 2020 at 8:48 am

    So beautiful! It did bring tears to my eyes. Thank you for again publishing The poem and the painting.

  • September 17, 2020 at 9:13 pm

    Thank you for posting this beautiful description of the hills that my great grandma. Loved. Going through an evacuation helps you to clarify what things are important. Our family has collected many articles, dishes, books, paintings, photos etc. for over 100 years. We’ve grabbed a few of our treasures, mom being one of them and headed down to the valley to rest and wait.


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