History of Poem

According to a popular legend, Ponce de León discovered Florida while searching for the Fountain of Youth. Though stories of vitality-restoring waters were known on both sides of the Atlantic long before Ponce de León, the story of his searching for them was not attached to him until after his death. In his Historia General y Natural de las Indias of 1535, Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo y Valdés wrote that Ponce de León was looking for the waters of Bimini to cure his aging. A similar account appears in Francisco López de Gómara’s Historia General de las Indias of 1551.

The St. Johns River is the longest river in the U.S. state of Florida and its most significant for commercial and recreational use. At 310 miles (500 km) long, it winds through or borders twelve counties, three of which are the state’s largest. A vast variety of people have lived on or near the St. Johns, including Archaic people, Timucua, Mocama, French and Spanish settlers, Seminoles, slaves and freemen, Florida crackers, land developers, tourists, and retirees. It has been the subject of William Bartram’s journals, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings’ books, and Harriet Beecher Stowe’s letters home.  

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