finer feelings

Finer feeling…is chiefly of two kinds: the feeling of the sublime and that of the beautiful. The stirring of each is pleasant, but in different ways. The sight of a mountain whose snow-covered peak rises above the clouds, the description of a raging storm, or Milton’s portrayal of the infernal kingdom, arouse enjoyment but with horror. On the other hand, the sight of flower strewn meadows, valleys with winding brooks and covered with grazing flocks, the description of Elysium, or Homer’s portrayal of the girdle of Venus, also occasion a pleasant sensation but one that is joyous and smiling. In order that the former impression could not occur to us in due strength, we must have a feeling of the sublime, and, in order to enjoy the latter well, a feeling of the beautiful. Tall oaks and lonely shadows in a sacred grove are sublime. Flower beds, low hedges and trees trimmed in figures are beautiful. Night is sublime, day is beautiful. Temperaments that possess a feeling for the sublime are drawn gradually, by the quiet stillness of a summer evening as the shimmering light of stars breaks through the brown shadows of night and the lonely moon rises into view, into high feelings of friendship, of disdain for the world, of eternity…the sublime moves, the beautiful charms…

…The sublime is in turn of different kinds. Its feeling is sometimes accompanied with a certain dread, or melancholy. In some cases merely with quiet wonder. And in still others with a beauty completely pervading a sublime plan ... Deep loneliness is sublime, but in a way that stirs terror…the sublime must always be great. The beautiful can also be small.

Immanuel Kant, Observations of the Feeling of the Beautiful and Sublime