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Consider one of Everson's best-known poems, "A Canticle to the Waterbirds" (57-59). As representatives of the nonhuman world, the birds have access to a God who must remain remote from humans. The water birds -keep seclusion where no man may go, giving Him praise; / Nor may a woman come to lift ... her clear contralto song / To honor" Him; indeed, they 'sanctify His hermitage rocks where no holy priest may kneel to adore, nor holy nun assist." But the birds can so partake of God precisely because they can sacrifice their own beings so absolutely and can remain aloof from the temporal concerns and fears that virtually define the human condition:

But mostly it is your way you bear existence wholly within the context of His utter will and are untroubled. Day upon day you do not reckon, nor scrutinize tomorrow, nor multiply the nightfalls with a rash concern, But rather assume each instant as warrant sufficient of His final seal. Wholly in Providence you spring, and when you die you look on death in clarity unflinched[.]

Likewise, the birds 'leave a silence' which for them "suffices," since they are "not of the ceremonials of man, / And hence are not made sad to now forgo them."

Like Jeffers, Everson might decry the human hubris that denies the nonhuman world, but he doesn't here counterpoise a vision of humankind's embeddedness in nature. Rather, we see a God (expressed in the natural world) whose "utter will" is the mirror image of human hubris, denying humans as they have largely denied nature. In its utterness, it gathers to itself all authority, all true Being, reducing otherness to mere reflection. Thus "man" is excluded or utterly absorbed.

It turns out in the poem that the birds, "utterly seized in God's supremacy," can after all teach us something: "the strict conformity that creaturehood entails." Just as Keats becomes a 'sod' and Emerson a "particle of God," interchangeable and anonymous, the self - to achieve its sacred creaturehood - here must shed all particularity and strictly conform. To break out of enclosed ego is to obliterate it. To be all is to be nothing.

Even in the act of maintaining this opposition, however, the poem calls it into question. Partly this involves the passion with which the poem renounces passion (recall Elder's description of Everson's passionate rejection of ... anthropocentrism"). But more centrally, the opposition is undermined by the way the poem begins and ends with a stunning catalogue of the names of the water birds addressed. The particularity of each kind of bird is scrupulously maintained in the distinctiveness of its name and of its specific environmental niche (we get a catalogue of names and places); yet, in Whitmanesque fashion, even as its particularity is rendered, each bird is seen to be part of a larger whole, the catalogue itself. Everson would have them all say the same thing - "His name" - but the variety of sounds we hear in the careful articulation of each particular name makes clear that each bird will say that same thing in a different tongue. Despite itself, then, the poem makes us see that "conformity" needn't be "strict," that nature is in fact single and multiple, that the opposition Everson offers to humans (to be either isolated or "utterly" subjugated) is at odds with how the natural world that he sees as sacramental actually works.