Anonymous, Have You Not Hard of Floryda? (from The Preme Rose in the Grene Forest)

One of the earliest poetic references to Florida appears in an anonymous and undated ballad, entitled “the preme Rose in the grene forest.” Other stanzas, probably written in the sixteenth century, make no reference to the Americas, and in this short section, the balladeer clearly alludes as much to Renaissance conceits of the Golden Age as to the physical place that was the Americas. The refrain that closes the third stanza, editors Pennington and Northrup note, was probably to be repeated with each verse. Spelling has been left unchanged from the manuscript, which is in the Bodleian Library at Oxford University, although the editors did add punctuation. “Have You Not Hard of Floryda” yet awaits adaptation and performance by contemporary musicians.

Abraham Ortelius, La Florida (George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida)

Edited by Thomas Hallock, Univ. of South Florida St. Petersburg

Further Reading

Hallock, Thomas. “Between Topos and the Terrain: The Environmental Literature of Florida, 1513-1821.” Paradise Lost? An Environmental History of Florida. Ed. Jack E. Davis and Raymond Arsenault. Gainseville: U P of Florida, 2005. 25-46.

Jones, Jane Anderson and Maurice J. O’Sullivan. Florida in Poetry: A History of the Imagination.Sarasota: Pineapple, 1995.

Pennington, Edgar Legare and Clark Sutherland Northup. “An Early Poem on Florida.” Florida Historical Quarterly 7:1 (July 1928). 72-74.


[Anonymous.] “Have you not hard of floryda” (Bodleian Library, Oxford University, Ashmolean Manuscript 48:140b:141). In Edgar Legare Pennington and Clark Sutherland Northup. The Florida Historical Society Quarterly 7:1 (July 1928). 72-74.

And as I walked toward s poles

I met a frend of myne,

Who toke [me] by the hand and sayde,

“Com drynk a pynt of wyne,

Wher you shall here

Such news, I fere,

As you abrode wyll compell.

with hy!


“Have you not hard of floryda,

A coontre far bewest,

Where savage pepell planted are

By nature and by hest,

Who in the mold

Fynd glysterynge gold

and yt for tryfels sell?

with hy!


“Ye all alonge the watere side,

Where yt doth eb and flowe,

Are turkeyse founde and where also

Do perles in oysteres growe,

And on the land

Do cedars stand

Whose bewty do[th] excel.

with hy!

trysky, trym, go trysky, wun not a wallet do well?


“The prymerose in the greene forest,

The vyolets the grow gaye,

The Dubbell Dayses with the rest

So merryly deks the waye

To moove my Sprytes

Through fond delyghts

Lyke pretty wons as the be.

with hy!


“The sweete record, the nytyngale,

The leveret and the thrushe,

Which whyps & skyps & wages there tales

From every bank to busshe

And chyrpyngly

Do pas the day

Like prety wond as the be.


“Have over the water to floryda,

Farewell, gay lundon, nowe,

Throw long deles by land and sese,

I am brawght, I cannot tell howe,

To plymwoorthe towne

In a thredbare goowne

and mony never Dele

with hy!

wunnot a wallet do well?


“When Aprell sylver showers so sweet

Can make may flowers to sprynge

And every pretty byrd prepars

Her wystlyng throte to synge,

The nyghtyngale

In every Dale

They doth ther duty well.

with hy!”