The joy of living and the sorrow of death are deeply intertwined in “B. Wordsworth.” Midway through the story, the boy asks B. Wordsworth about his overgrown yard. When B. Wordsworth tells him a story that suggests that his pregnant wife and unborn daughter died, the boy comments that B. Wordsworth, as he told this story, “seemed to grow older,” suggesting that this memory is a painful one for B. Wordsworth even if he keeps his yard overgrown in order to keep the memory alive. Near the end of the story, the boy visits a very sick B. Wordsworth and understands that he is dying. B. Wordsworth on this occasion disclaims the earlier story about the “boy poet and girl poet,” stating that it was “just something I made up.” The boy, even so, notes that he “ran home crying, like a poet, for everything I saw.” Even if B. Wordsworth’s story is untrue, there is a palpable sense in the story of the beauty of life and the pain of loss, where the experience of beauty compensates for the pain. Even if the boy finally wonders if B. Wordsworth ever actually existed, the question seems to arise from a deeply felt sense of the shimmering reality that B. Wordsworth embodied when he was alive and the sad vacancy of the world in his absence.
Living and Dying ThemeTracker
Living and Dying Quotes in B. Wordsworth
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.’
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.’
I walked along Alberto Street a year later, but I could find no sign of the poet’s house. It hadn’t vanished, just like that. It had been pulled down, and a big, two-storeyed building had taken its place. The mango tree and the plum tree and the coconut tree had all been cut down, and there was brick and concrete everywhere.
It was just as though B. Wordsworth had never existed.