Gurdjieff International Review

Martin Benson at Armonk

Roger Lipsey

Martin Benson sometimes reeled,

He was a man with sea-legs.

You didn’t know

Where his voyage was taking him that day,

But you felt inclined to make your own.

His face was open

With blue eyes that never focused on faults

But somehow counted you into a vision of things

That embraced both you and various kinds of organic knowledge

Such as farming, carpentry, wood-warping,

Sled manufacture, glass-blowing, wind harp design,

And occult fields like the languages of animals.

Given his breadth, there was no reason to suffer in his presence,

Only a need to reel a little,

To stand on his ocean with him and adapt well to it.

He spoke in waves—

You couldn’t parse his sentences

Any more than you can parse waves,

Advancing and receding, bringing all sorts of things,

Often stuff that only the sea knows the origin of.

He was wise but never set things in order:

You caught what you could and put it in your bag,

Knowing that it didn’t add up to a whole

But represented the whole directly.

He was vulnerable, and you could sense that.

He wasn’t cased in anger,

And of course no one touched him:

Such vulnerability is great power.

His workshop was off the beaten path

Not far from where the wind harp stood on that memorable day.

It was an antique shop, a laboratory, a bird house,

A historical restoration, a cottage industry,

An asylum for left-over materials,

The last outpost before the woods.

And it was a club for heavier men

Who lumber up the path of consciousness together

With fair doubts about lighter men elsewhere on the grounds.

They worked with a sense of ritual, it seems:

Given his openness, there was no routine

But something more like the discovery of sensible gestures.

A rhythm in an atmosphere—that describes it.

In one of his last talks he had in mind

Some Eskimo tools made from meteorites,

Metal originating in other worlds.

He wanted to get one for us to see,

Although he acknowledged their rarity.

There is no laying to rest,

Only the unrest and warmth

That he and others of his friends now gone

Have sown.

What law is there other than forgetting?

Is the chain of friendships in some way

More enduring than monuments and books?

Drawing by Dr. William Welch. Originally published in A Journal of Our Time (November 1977) Toronto: Traditional Studies Press, and used here with the kind permission of both the author and publisher.


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Featured: Spring 2019 Issue, Vol. XIII (2)
Revision: August 20, 2020