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About this Item

Title: Yonnodio

Creator: Walt Whitman

Date: November 26, 1887

Whitman Archive ID: per.00024

Source: Critic 11 (26 November 1887): 267. Our transcription is based on a digital image of an original issue. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the periodical poems, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Elizabeth Lorang, April Lambert, Heather Morton, Leslie Ianno, Ramon Guerra, and Susan Belasco

image 1

cropped image 1


A SONG, a poem of itself—the word itself a dirge,
Amid the wilds, the rocks, the storm and wintry night;
To me such misty, strange tableaux the syllables calling up;
Yonnondio*—I see, far in the west or north, a limitless ra-
vine, with plains and mountains dark,
I see swarms of stalwart chieftains, medicine-men, and war-
As flitting by like clouds of ghosts, they pass and are gone in
the twilight,
(Race of the woods, the landscapes free, and the falls!
No picture, poem, statement, passing them to the future:)
Yonnondio! Yonnondio!—unlimn'd they disappear;
To-day gives place, and fades—the cities, farms, factories
A muffled sonorous sound, a wailing word is borne through
the air for a moment,
Then blank and gone and still, and utterly lost.


*The sense of the word is lament for the aborigines. It is an Iroquois term; and has been used for a personal name.—W.W.


1. Reprinted in the "Sands at Seventy" annex to Leaves of Grass (1888). [back]


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