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nyc_air's avatar

What does it mean to be traped in a dark abyss?

Asked by nyc_air (284 points ) May 9th, 2010

I have heard this saying in numerous poems but I don’t understand. I know what an abyss is but how do you feel like you are trapped in it. And could someone please explain what the phrase “When you look into the abyss, the abyss looks back into you.” My English teacher tried explaining it before but I still don’t understand.

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13 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

Can you give us an actual quote from a piece of poetry? Metaphors need to be interpreted in context.

Here’s an old war horse; Invictus; by Wm Ernest Henley:

“Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeoning of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

nyc_air's avatar

I really don’t have any of the poetry with me right now but the quote from German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche“When you look into the abyss, the abyss also looks into you.” how would you interpret that, I am looking for it right now but i can’t seem to find the original text.

netgrrl's avatar

It means that we are changed forever. It helps if you read the whole aphorism:

He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you.

faye's avatar

GA @netgrrl I do like that quote.

perspicacious's avatar

The term could be used to describe many different situations in which a person could find himself. One example is depression. I’ve heard it described similarly.

Tomfafa's avatar

Probably you are well adjusted… your picture taking skills could use some work.

YARNLADY's avatar

It is a very graphic, picturesque way of saying you are feeling very depressed and you don’t know a cure.

ZEPHYRA's avatar

Simply to be alive at this day and age.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

It’s a good description of depression. When I’m on the right meds, I look into the abyss and laugh.

nyc_air's avatar

So it seems like people mostly think its depression, but what about what @netgrrl said, how does it look back into you. Thats what really threw me off, depression looks back into you? Im sure there is something Im missing.

nyc_air's avatar

@Tomfafa thanks but my picture taking skills are superb, how is it that Im well adjusted. And is it silly that I can’t seem to fully get a grasp on this.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

@nyc_air Depression looks back into you, takes over and runs your life.

Tomfafa's avatar

@nyc_air Need an NYC adjustment?

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