Monday, April 7, 2014

Doug Beardsley

Doug Beardsley has published seven books of poetry, and three books about hockey—Canada's national game. He is also known as an authority on the Holocaust. His new and selected poems, Wrestling with Angels, appeared from Montreal's Signal Editions in 1995. He is married to literary critic and poet, Rosemary Sullivan. Doug Beardsley taught at the University of Victoria from 1981 to 2006.

He collaborated with celebrated Canadian poet Al Purdy on two books. The Man Who Outlived Himself, about John Donne, and No One Else is Lawrence, honouring the poetry of D.H. Lawrence. The Canadian Encyclopedia also notes Beardsley is "a friend and longtime correspondent of Irving Layton," another of Canada's best known poets.

The following poem is from Doug Beardsley's book Kissing the Body of My Lord: the Marie Poems (1982), which is a series of poems written from the point of view of Marie of the Incarnation—the leader of a group of nuns who came to New France (Quebec) to establish the Ursuline Order in 1639.

Gospel Prayer

Often I have seen the many sides of myself down falling
through my fault, my most grievous fault
my feeble faith. Why You came to me I cannot know.

My life wells up. What we do in this world,
how we pass through cannot be called sin.
We live by what we love.

What does it mean to be saved,
what is salvation but knowing all
that You are. No one can see Your face

and not die. In Your sight I searched to find
nothing. I have made a cross here at the centre
of myself and come up empty

From You I draw my final breath
the way the sisters draw water from our frozen well.
Wet me with Your grace, take me with Your love,

will me to be what you want
me to know, my whole life a prayer
of preparation.

All heaven is here, all the saints of the past
collect about me in the cold of this church we chose
to call Kébec. As it was

once more, grant me the Word my brother born,
I am coming home to share with You
life's encircled sorrow, this anguished end.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His new poetry collection, Conspiracy of Light: Poems Inspired by the Legacy of C.S. Lewis, is available from Wipf & Stock as is his earlier award-winning collection, Poiema.