"Nunc plaudite!" the Student cried,
When he had finished; "now applaud,
As Roman actors used to say
At the conclusion of a play;
And rose, and spread his hands abroad,
And smiling bowed from side to side,
As one who bears the palm away.
And generous was the applause and loud,
But less for him than for the sun,
That even as the tale was done
Burst from its canopy of cloud,
And lit the landscape with the blaze
Of afternoon on autumn days,
And filled the room with light, and made
The fire of logs a painted shade.
A sudden wind from out the west
Blew all its trumpets loud and shrill;
The windows rattled with the blast,
The oak-trees shouted as it passed,
And straight, as if by fear possessed,
The cloud encampment on the hill
Broke up, and fluttering flag and tent
Vanished into the firmament,
And down the valley fled amain
The rear of the retreating rain.
Only far up in the blue sky
A mass of clouds, like drifted snow
Suffused with a faint Alpine glow,
Was heaped together, vast and high,
On which a shattered rainbow hung,
Not rising like the ruined arch
Of some aerial aqueduct,
But like a roseate garland plucked
From an Olympian god, and flung
Aside in his triumphal march.
Like prisoners from their dungeon gloom,
Like birds escaping from a snare,
Like school-boys at the hour of play,
All left at once the pent-up room,
And rushed into the open air;
And no more tales were told that day.