B. Wordsworth

by

V. S. Naipaul

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Themes and Colors
Identity Construction Theme Icon
Art and the Artist’s Life Theme Icon
Unconventional Friendship Theme Icon
The Wonder of Nature Theme Icon
Living and Dying Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in B. Wordsworth, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
Art and the Artist’s Life Theme Icon

B. Wordsworth introduces himself to the boy in the beginning of the story as “Black Wordsworth,” the brother of “White Wordsworth,” or William Wordsworth, a 19th-century English Romantic poet who believed in cultivating a meaningful and immediate relationship to the natural world. B. Wordsworth claims that he is a poet and tells the boy that he’s writing one line of poetry each month with the intention of eventually creating “the greatest poem in the world.” It is not clear, however, whether he has actually written more than the one line he shares with the boy, “The past is deep.” While B. Wordsworth may not be a poet in the conventional sense—in his last conversation with the boy, he denies that he ever was a poet—the story implies that he is a poet in the more abstract sense of adopting an artist’s general relationship to the surrounding world. He embraces the world (especially nature) in a spirit of creativity, wonder, and deep feeling. In this way, he really does seem to have something in common with the Romantic poet William Wordsworth, who believed in appreciating natural beauty and leading an introspective life. B. Wordsworth even tells the boy that “when you’re a poet you can cry for everything” and leads the boy on various excursions that seemed designed to teach the boy how to approach the world in a similar way—that is, how to engage with his surroundings on a meaningful, emotional level. The boy comments that B. Wordsworth does “everything as though he were doing it for the first time in his life.” He also adds that, because of this, the world “became a most exciting place.” Because of B. Wordsworth’s artistic approach to life, the boy himself learns to see the world as an endless source of wonder and meaning.

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Art and the Artist’s Life Quotes in B. Wordsworth

Below you will find the important quotes in B. Wordsworth related to the theme of Art and the Artist’s Life.
B. Wordsworth Quotes

‘Black. Black Wordsworth. White Wordsworth was my brother. We share one heart. I can watch a small flower like the morning glory and cry.’

Related Characters: B. Wordsworth (speaker), The Boy (The Narrator)
Page Number: 37
Explanation and Analysis:

He said, ‘Listen, and I will tell you a story. Once upon a time a boy and girl met each other and they fell in love. They loved each other so much they got married. They were both poets. He loved words. She loved grass and flowers and trees. They lived happily in a single room, and then one day the girl poet said to the boy poet, “We are going to have another poet in the family.” But this poet was never born, because the girl died, and the young poet died with her, inside her. And the girl’s husband was very sad, and he said he would never touch a thing in the girl’s garden. And so the garden remained, and grew high and wild.’

Related Characters: The Boy (The Narrator) (speaker), B. Wordsworth (speaker)
Page Number: 39
Explanation and Analysis:

He said, ‘But this is a different sort of poem. This is the greatest poem in the world.’

I whistled.

He said, ‘I have been working on it for more than five years now. I will finish it in about twenty-two years from now, that is, if I keep on writing at the present rate.’

You does write a lot, then?’

He said, ‘Not any more. I just write one line a month. But I make sure it is a good line.’

I asked, ‘What was last month’s good line?’ He looked up at the sky and said, ‘The past is deep.’

Related Characters: The Boy (The Narrator) (speaker), B. Wordsworth (speaker)
Page Number: 40
Explanation and Analysis:

Our walks continued. We walked along the sea-wall at Docksite one day, and I said, ‘Mr. Wordsworth, if I drop this pin in the water, you think it will float?’

He said, ‘This is a strange world. Drop your pin, and let us see what will happen.’

The pin sank.

Related Characters: B. Wordsworth (speaker), The Boy (The Narrator) (speaker)
Page Number: 40
Explanation and Analysis:

He wasn’t looking at me. He was looking through the window at the coconut tree, and he was speaking as though I wasn’t there. He said, ‘When I was twenty I felt the power within myself.’ Then, almost in front of my eyes, I could see his face growing older and more tired. He said, ‘But that—that was a long time ago.’

Related Characters: The Boy (The Narrator) (speaker), B. Wordsworth (speaker)
Related Symbols: Trees
Page Number: 40
Explanation and Analysis:

He said, ‘Good. Well, listen. That story I told you about the boy poet and the girl poet, do you remember that? That wasn’t true. It was something I just made up. All this talk about poetry and the greatest poem in the world, that wasn’t true, either. Isn’t that the funniest thing you have heard?’

Related Characters: The Boy (The Narrator) (speaker), B. Wordsworth (speaker)
Page Number: 42
Explanation and Analysis: