Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Ocean Ranger, Stuart Pierson and Ron Hynes

As Stuart Pierson put it,

"...mid-February, 1982, when it was borne in upon us that a "rig" called Ocean Ranger had succumbed to a savage Atlantic storm, had capsized and sunk on the Grand Banks. All "hands" lost, one hundred sixty-eight of them belonging to eighty-four men (there were no women on board), employees of Mobil Oil through its subsidiary ODECO."

So starts the last section of a long essay by Stuart Pierson entitled Medieval Survivals: Reflections on Ron Hynes's cryer's paradise - the final section, dealing with a song Hyne's wrote in respone to the sinking of the Ocean Ranger and the loss of those one hundred sixty-eight hands.

Memorial University of Newfoundland's Public Orator Shane O'Dea referred to the same song, Atlantic Blue when the University paid tribute to Ron Hynes with the degree of doctor of letters, (honoris causa),

"His most haunting song ... the song of the Ocean Ranger disaster. As subtle a song as ever came from this land, it moves through a series of unanswerable questions ... to convey the desolation of that eternally-Valentineless day."

To quote the ending of Stuart Pierson's essay:

"Hynes pared this song down to its starkest possible minimum. A time comes to tell the truth, to understate, to use short words.

Is that you Atlantic Blue?
My heart is as cold as you. "

Hard-Headed and Big-Hearted: Writing Newfoundland by Stuart Pierson, edited by Stan Dragland (2006) is published by Pennywell Books, St. John's, Newfoundland.

Atlantic Blue by Ron Hynes appears on his album cryer's paradise.