Poetry of the Sea

Spiral Poem Image

Dedicated to Jack Dymond (1939-2003)

Jack Dymond was Professor of Oceanography at Oregon State University for 34 years before his untimely death in 2003. He died doing what he loved best—fly-fishing on the Rogue River. He was one of my closest friends.

Jack loved science and he loved art - almost as much as he loved fishing. His wife, Jan, is an accomplished artist. For Jack there was no boundary between art and science, and he celebrated the human spirit in myriad ways. In thinking about how to configure the web site for this expedition, I knew that if I could ask Jack what he thought about a Poetry Page on a web site for a scientific research cruise, he would have grinned and said, in his quiet way, "Of course! Do it – I’ll help.”

It is fitting that this expedition is returning to the northern segment of the Juan de Fuca Ridge, known as the Endeavour Hydrothermal System: Twenty-two years ago Jack Dymond was part of the team that discovered this intensely active hydrothermal vent field. We dove on it for the first time one year later, in 1984, using the research submersible ALVIN. Jack was one the principal scientific contributors to the proposal submitted to the National Science Foundation that funded those first dives in this vent system. In 1977, Jack had been a key player in the discovery of the world’s first submarine hydrothermal systems near the Galapagos Islands.

Jack’s death two years ago was a painful loss for many of us in the scientific community. He was an incredibly special human being who lived his life to the fullest and was completely honest about who he was. Over the years of our friendship, I found myself turning often to him for advice, or simply for lively discussions about philosophy, art, science, human nature, the environment. We talked endlessly about how to develop the RIDGE Initiative – a focused NSF Program devoted to interdisciplinary research into the behavior of the Global Mid-Ocean Ridge Spreading Center network. He always exhibited a quiet, vibrant intellect and a delightful sense of humor. Jack had immense energy and vision, yet was one of the gentlest human beings I have ever met. He was a deeply treasured friend.

So this page is offered in Jack's memory. Its purpose is to celebrate the beauty of the human spirit as expressed in the poetry of water, the study of oceans, and the people who are fascinated with both. With luck it will capture the struggle, the mystery, and the exhilaration that are intrinsic to the expression of human creativity regardless of its form. This Poetry Page of the VISIONS’05 Research Cruise is dedicated to the profound influence Jack had on so many of us.

In an effort to capture Jack’s spirit and to encourage you to offer something you care deeply about, I have taken a first step by posting a poem dedicated to Jack. Regardless of whether you knew him, additional contributions are welcome from anyone willing to share any form of digital “water” art that moves your spirit.

A contribution could be a favorite piece of prose--funny, sad, profound. It could be a poem, a sea chantey, a small image designed for incorporation into this web site. It need only be about the sea - or rivers, or streams or lakes - it may be something published, or personal, your own, or someone else's, and it need only celebrate the richness and complexity of the human fascination with “bodies’” of water (which I suppose includes each of us, since we are 98% H2O).

I have followed the opening poem with a short diverse selection of pieces to prime the pump, as it were. If you are so moved, pass your contribution to jdelaney@u.washington.edu or penrose@ocean.washington.edu with attribution, date if possible, and a source reference. We will post it, with your name as space and time permit.

John R. Delaney