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As stated in the title. What is the word or phrase for the point where we stare at, when our mind is caught in a deep thought?

To a sanctum, past the reaches
Of my fancy and my whim
I sit, staring at the (??????)
My haggard face grim

The point of posting the whole stanza is that you can/should word the 3rd line just as you like, maintaining the fluency and rhythm. at the after "staring" are optional (can be removed or modified). But some mention of sitting and staring must be present.

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  • Presumably you'd like that word to rhyme with "reaches"? Oct 6 '15 at 18:12
  • But this looks seriously like "poetry-writing advice". In context, I suggest glaring at unseen things. Close the question and move on. Oct 6 '15 at 18:19
  • @KristinaLopez: No no. That is not required at all. Only the "weight" of the line needs to be justified so as to able to read it without changing the tone or speed of recitation. Its not ABAB, its ABCB. Here in Asia, we don't fuss too much about the first line rhyming in poetry. Oct 6 '15 at 18:20
  • Staring blankly at nothing in particular could mean you're bored, catatonic, or having a seizure. The latter is sometimes referred to as an 'ontic fit', a very undramatic fit. Socrates supposedly was prone to these.
    – Mitch
    Oct 6 '15 at 18:36
  • Wait... is this a poem you are writing? So this is supposed to make no sense? Because you know, the whole point to staring blankly is that there is no point in space one is looking at.
    – Mitch
    Oct 6 '15 at 18:36

11 Answers 11

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The word void would work quite nicely.

To a sanctum, past the reaches

Of my fancy and my whim

I sit, glaring at the void

My haggard face grim

I suppose "into the void" would work even better. Not sure why.

Then there is the even "heavier" word abyss. [Sorry, @shaunxer, I came up with this one before you posted your answer! Great minds think alike, I guess!]

To a sanctum, past the reaches

Of my fancy and my whim

I sit, glaring into the abyss

My haggard face grim

Abyss is consonant with sanctum, glaring, haggard, and grim.

Finally, subconscious might work.

To a sanctum, past the reaches

Of my fancy and my whim

I sit, glaring into the subconscious

My haggard face grim

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  • I guess void is the closest match to what I am looking for. Upvote for being helpful enough to post how the line would look with each possible phrase. If I do not get anything better than "void", I would mark this answer correct. Oct 6 '15 at 18:28
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My mum used to refer to that as "staring deep into la-la land" which always amused me. I've often also heard of people "staring off into space" to describe that phenomenon.

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  • 3
    I agree with staring into space. It is the same as staring into the distance. I think staring into 'la-la land' may be specific to your family! Oct 6 '15 at 18:15
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Nothingness may fit. Unfortunately, it doesn't rhyme with "reaches".

To a sanctum, past the reaches

Of my fancy and my whim

I sit, staring at nothingness

My haggard face grim

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  • Rhyming is not required. It also doesn't quite fit in the rhythm and flow of the stanza and that's what is bad about it. Oct 6 '15 at 19:14
  • Very helpful in the current form. I would rather remove "at" and have I sit staring nothingness instead. It's not grammatically correct, but such slight deviations are a norm in poetry. Oct 6 '15 at 20:08
  • I think it flows nicely with into nothingness
    – Jim
    Oct 6 '15 at 23:20
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I have seen the phrase "into the middle distance" used in relatively recent novels. Collinsdictionary.com defines this usage of "middle distance" as "halfway between the observer and the horizon". It would seem that this literary usage is derived from a technical term in landscape painting. The Collins page gives this example sentence:

Steam from her coffee cup drifted like mist before her face, and she appeared to gaze into the middle distance, her thoughts hidden.

-from Better than This, Stuart Harrison

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I think abyss would be good here, as it is sometimes used when saying something like "staring off into the abyss" like when you are daydreaming.

Also there is a famous quote by Frederich Nietzsche that says

"Battle not with monsters lest ye become a monster; and if you gaze into the abyss the abyss gazes into you

So to complete your sentence you could say

I sit, glaring into the abyss

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    At all not. When you are caught in a deep thought, you are staring into the space or the distance (or anything else, vague like these two). Abyss is a very precise thing, and I have not seen it being used commonly or in poetry. Oct 6 '15 at 18:26
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    Abyss can mean something infinite. Infinity isn't very precise. Anyway I have heard "staring into the abyss" used a lot in the classroom for when a student is looking off and daydreaming.
    – shaunxer
    Oct 6 '15 at 18:37
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    In Soviet Russia, abyss glares at you.
    – Mazura
    Oct 6 '15 at 20:10
  • Sorry, -1 from me. Staring into the abyss is darkness, madness and that your mind is getting lost down there. It's very much looking down into the depths and darkness of your soul, where the demon's live... And if you stare long enough, the abyss stares back at you, that is, you become lost in the darkness. From the question, they are deep in thought, I didn't get that darkness or battling personal demon's, just a sense of escape.
    – RemarkLima
    Oct 6 '15 at 21:40
  • Lima, the word does not mean what you think it means. Please look at the page I linked to, or any other credible dictionary. You should find that not a single credible dictionary describes the word as you do.
    – shaunxer
    Oct 6 '15 at 21:54
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I stare into oblivion myself. Cambridge:

the ​state of being ​unconscious or ​lacking ​awareness of what is ​happening around you

If I'm thinking hard, the visual systems are basically, totally shut down.

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  • Wah wah! It gave me an idea => I sit ... staring ... oblivious ... Upvote for the very poetic and powerful single word !! Oct 6 '15 at 20:10
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The 'point' is at exactly 1000 yards: Thousand-yard stare –Wiki

Your haggard face grim - You sit, staring at the LINE.

“Farthest from your mind is the thought of falling back; in fact, it isn't there at all. And so you dig your hole carefully and deep, and wait. –506th Parachute Infantry Regiment’s “Currahee Scrapbook”

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I would either call this a 'vanishing point' or a 'point at infinity'.

enter image description here

Both refer to the (apparent) point in a painting, to which all lines aimed straight away from the painter seem to converge. I suppose if your eyes are unfocused, the rays pointing from them sort of converge to the vanishing point.

Some more examples from Renaissance painting (The vanishing point is not quite so obvious though).

enter image description here

enter image description here

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  • Woo woo woo! That's quite a long and unpoetic, technical looking phrase. No? Oct 6 '15 at 20:11
  • 'Vanishing point' is not especially long to say or write. And I have mostly heard it talked about in reference to renaissance art. It does have an arts context. And I'm not sure I agree with you about any word being more or less poetic than any other. I would emphasize finding an accurate and short description rather than intentionally looking for one that sounds 'poetic'.
    – Daron
    Oct 6 '15 at 20:17
  • You are right. I meant unpoetic and technical for use in the line mentioned in the question. Plus some words/phrases are really unpoetic (examples include solar wind, logic gates, carboniferous period and T-Rex) :p Oct 6 '15 at 20:20
  • 'Logic Gates' is only unpoetic when used to describe actual logic gates. When it is meant as a metaphor to describe anything other than actual logic gates, it is very poetic indeed!
    – Daron
    Oct 6 '15 at 20:24
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staring into space

This is a common phrase, captures the meaning without inserting loaded language like 'oblivion'/'abyss'/'void', or referencing the surroundings like 'at the wall'.

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To a sanctum, past the reaches

Of my fancy and my whim

I sit, staring into contemplation

My haggard face grim

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"I sit, staring to Omega"

or

"I sit, staring into Mu"

or perhaps replace "staring" with "gazing", if it's permitted? (staring may imply more intentional action than day-dreaming?)

I thought of Omega because of the phrase along the lines of "(I am the) Alpha and Omega" referring to the Beginning (Alpha) and the End (Omega)". To me, it could mean Infinity or a point in time (and/or space) which is at the end of all things.

I also thought of Mu because I've seen it used in Koans and quotes from Zen Buddhism as an answer to questions which have no answer, and may also lead to enlightenment. Bear in mind that these are my own personal interpretations of both; they may well be totally inaccurate when actually investigated!

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    This is a Q&A site, not a Q&speculate or makeup site. Are these phases you've heard before or are you suggesting new phrases?
    – Mitch
    Oct 8 '15 at 13:48

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