"Verulam" is Francis Bacon, the English thinker who is often considered the father of modern science. Tennyson, who pairs him with Plato as the greatest of philosphers, included the following line from Dante's Inferno as a note to the 1832 edition of the poem: "Il maëstro di color chi sanno" ("the master of them who know," Canto IV, l. 131), Dante's description of Aristotle. Christopher Ricks reminds us that in his memoirs, Tennyson pointed out that he had taken Dante's praise of Aristotle and applied it instead to Bacon. The poet, who in this poem and elsewhere alludes to astronomy, chemistry, physics, geology, and paleontology, here makes the inspirer of the physical sciences the peer of the great ancient philosopher.
[Back to the passage in "The Palace of Art"]
Tennyson, Alfred. The Poems. Ed. Christopher Ricks. (Longmans Annotated Poets Series) London: Longmans, 1969.
Last modified 11 October 2005