Revolutionary Métis leader Louis Riel wrote a great deal of amateur politically charged poetry in French. This work, written to one of his jailers prior to his execution, was one of the few works he composed in English.
76197Poem Written to his JailerLouis Riel1885
The original 2-page manuscript
I beg your pardon
For so having
Kept you waiting
After some poor verses of mine.
You know, my English is not fine.
I speak it; but only
Which renders the ground all white,
From heaven, comes here below:
Its pine frozen drops invite
To white-keep your thoughts and our acts,
So that when our bodies do fall,
Our merits, before God, be facts.
How many who, with good desires,
Have died and lost their souls to fires?
Good desires kept unpractic’d
Stand, before God, unnotic’d
O, Robert, Let us be fond
Of Virtue! Virtues abound
In every sort of good,
Let virtue be our soul’s food.
Louis “David” Riel.
October 27, 1885
This work published before January 1, 1923 is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.