Kissing the Body of My Lord: The Marie Poems


63 pages
Contains Illustrations
ISBN 0-919285-08-2





Reviewed by Michael Williamson

Michael Williamson was Reference Librarian at the National Library of Canada in Ottawa.


Mr. Beardsley’s ninth book is a series of poems portraying real and imagined episodes in the life of Marie Guyart, who died in 1672 and who is considered to be one of the five principal founders of New France. Marie was canonized in 1980 and could very well become Canada’s first saint. As the poet makes clear, the poems in this collection are an attempt at historical reconstruction and the product of much research, including the sifting through of most of Marie’s voluminous letters and poems, as well as several histories of the time; Mr. Beardsley, in fact, goes as far as to say that Marie should be considered the “co-author” of the collection. Longspoon Press has designed a book that looks historical: weathered brown with reproductions of historical scenes from Quebec history of Marie’s time. Some of the poems succeed in achieving an atmosphere of transcendent beauty, akin to crystallization of religious faith and epiphany: “my most grievous fault / my feeble faith. / Why you came to me I cannot know.” The book is arranged in a trinity of three sections — coming to Kébec, meeting and attempting to convert the “savages,” and the “Last Winter.” The poetry itself is very well written, managing to sustain an even tone throughout, as a believer would sustain a faith. All in all, this is a successful collection, conceptionally and structurally: Mr. Beardsley has managed to find an almost perfect subject for a poetic sequence and he has created an impressive rendering of faith, history and first-rate poetry.


Beardsley, Doug, “Kissing the Body of My Lord: The Marie Poems,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 19, 2024,