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Yonnondio, the title of the poem means lament for the aborigines. Aborigines are the first inhabitants of a country. In this poem Walt is lamenting over the losses that the Native Americans have suffered. The first line tells the reader that this is a dirge – a funeral song.

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A song, a poem of itself—the word itself a dirge,

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Amid the wilds, the rocks, the storm and wintry night,

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To me such misty, strange tableaux the syllables calling up;

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Yonnondio—I see, far in the west or north, a limitless ravine, with plains and mountains dark,

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I see swarms of stalwart chieftains, medicine-men, and warriors,

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As flitting by like clouds of ghosts, they pass and are gone in the twilight,

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(Race of the woods, the landscapes free, and the falls!

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No picture, poem, statement, passing them to the future:)

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Yonnondio! Yonnondio!—unlimnd they disappear;

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To-day gives place, and fades—the cities, farms, factories fade;

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A muffled sonorous sound, a wailing word is borne through the air for a moment,

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Then blank and gone and still, and utterly lost.