Elizabeth Bishop's poem "Sandpiper" implies that identity is bound up with one's place or setting. The sandpiper in this poem is acutely alive in his surroundings. To the extent that he understands and makes the most of his environment, he stays alive and thrives.
It is important to note that sandpipers eat by finding small invertebrate animals in the sand and mud near the ocean, exploring their surroundings with their eyes and beaks.
This sandpiper has an identity that is described by the narrator as "finical," which means finicky, and panicky—he runs along the shore as the waves roar and crash. He knows that "every so often the world is bound to shake." If you have seen a sandpiper running along the beach as a wave rolls in, you can see how this might look like controlled panic.
Mostly, however, the sandpiper strives to manage himself within his surroundings. His quest for food defines who he is as he searches the thousands of grains of sand for food when the ocean water recedes....
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