"It was after this decisive blow that Francis I wrote the justly celebrated Spartan letter to his mother, containing the following words only— 'Madam, all is lost, save Honour.'" -Thurtle's History of France.
My path of life an adverse fiend,
In evil hour, hath crost,
My sceptre from my hand is riven,
Save Honour, all is lost!
My yeomen good all bathed in blood
Lie on the battle-field,
And many a gallant knight who bore
High crest on blazoned shield.
Against my warrior-band was laid
Full many a lance in rest,
But every foeman's lance was broke
Within a hero's breast.
The spoiler now may seize my realm,
The stranger fill my throne;
But let them take the world from me,
So Honour be my own.
My heart will bleed to think, fair France!
Of thee, and all thy woes;
Thou ne'er may'st know for years, perchance,
A moment of repose.
Perchance—but from yon star on high
Proceeds a heavenly strain,
It bids me hope for better days
When France shall smile again.
What though my sceptre's snatched away?
My sword is in my hand;
What though my banner waves no more
In my loved native land?
My sceptre's snatched from me—but still
There's life-blood in my veins;
And though my kingdom fair is lost,
My Honour still remains.
Honour remains! but all beside
Is lost, is lost to me;
And cold on Pavia's fatal plain
Sleeps, France! thy chivalry.
There let them rest; unconquered there
They sleep the hero's sleep;
Like men they fell in glory's cause,
For them we should not weep.
We should not weep for them; they rest
Unconscious of our cares;
Who envies not their bed of death?
For Honour still is their's!
And here I roam like ocean-weed
Upon the billows tost—
Where are my warriors, where's my crown?
Save Honour—all is lost!
Save Honour, all is lost; but still
While Honour yet remains,
It fires me with the hope to break
The conquering tyrant's chains.
With one fond wish for fairest France
My heart is swelling high,
And oh ! for all her future ills
One tear bedims mine eye.
But, cheer thee up, my drooping heart,
Though by misfortune crost;
Hope still shall light thee on to fame,
For Honour is not lost!