Finding the Sublime

Anything which elevates the mind is sublime.
Greatness of matter, space, power, virtue or beauty,
are all sublime.

– John Ruskin

Svalbard, Arctic Region

To experience sublime natural beauty is to confront the total inadequacy of language to describe what you see. Words cannot convey the scale of a view that is so stunning it is felt.
– Eleanor Catton

Baobab Avenue, Morondava, Madagascar

Friendship is a serious affection; the most sublime of all affections, because it is founded on principle,
and cemented by time.

– Mary Wollstonecraft

Sankei-en Garden, Yokohama, Japan

For most of us, there is only the unattended
Moment, the moment in and out of time,
The distraction fit, lost in a shaft of sunlight,
The wild thyme unseen, or the winter lightning
Or the waterfall, or music heard so deeply
That it is not heard at all, but you are the music
While the music lasts.
T.S. Eliot

Lhasa, Tibet

What are the scenes of nature that elevate the mind
and produce the sublime sensation?
…the hoary mountain, the solitary lake,
the aged forest and torrent falling over rocks.

– Hugh Blair, lecture notes from 1783.

Wadi Rum, Petra, Jordan

Whereas the beautiful is limited, the sublime is limitless,
so that the mind in the presence of the sublime,
attempting to imagine what it cannot, has pain in the
failure but pleasure in contemplating the
immensity of the attempt.
– Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason

 Chand Baori Stepwell. Abhaneri


The value of landscapes would henceforth be decided not solely on the basis of formal aesthetic criteria (the harmony of colours, for example, or the arrangement of lines) or even economic or practical concerns, but rather according to the power of places to arouse the mind to sublimity.
– Edmund Burke

Rangoon, Burma/Myanmar
Bayon, Angkor Wat, Cambodia

In the built environment shape, size, scale, proportion, texture, color, and light work together to sublime effect.

Bilbao, Spain
Agra, India

Greatly begin.
Though thou have time, but for a line, be that sublime.
Not failure, but low aim is crime.
-James Russell Lowell


Four sublime states of mind  taught by the Buddha:

Sympathetic Joy

Agra, India
Angkor Wat, Angkor, Cambodia

These images are available as fine art prints.  
For information:


To look on nature, not as in the hour
Of thoughtless youth; but hearing oftentimes
The still, sad music of humanity,
Nor harsh nor grating, though of ample power
To chasten and subdue. And I have felt
A presence that disturbs me with the joy
Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
And the round ocean and the living air,
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man;
A motion and a spirit, that impels
All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
And rolls through all things.
William Wordsworth


 Crawick Multiverse. Scotland, United Kingdom

By Steve McCurry

Steve McCurry has been one of the most iconic voices in contemporary photography for more than thirty years, with scores of magazine and book covers, over a dozen books, and countless exhibitions around the world to his name.

To read more about Steve go to

22 replies on “Finding the Sublime”

I am a new follower and love these photos and the texts too. Poetry gives me a sublime feeling too, and music, all things beautiful do, in nature, in people… thankyou Steve!

Lei ha un universo interiore che è un groviglio di bellissime emozioni che esplodono nelle sue foto. Sa parlare all’anima, comunicare sensazioni anche alla parte più razionale e arida del nostro essere. Sublime è il tocco leggero della sua arte che sa marchiare a fuoco l’anima. Ringraziarla per questo suo dono è riduttivo ma non conosco altra parola più idonea di un grazie. ❤️

Your work is so peaceful. There is an element of calm at the center. Thank you for your vision.

hello Ana, can you let me know what sister site this is, I tried to find Poetic Justice but get all sorts of sites about films. I would like to find a good website of poetry. Thanks, Josephine

I’ve been on that train.. in that place of chaos, that place of worship of love,
as I gazed upon your beautifully captured scene …my heart leapt 🙏

When you say SUBLIME it is almost a *requirement* to have a pictures of the Taj Mahal. Thank you Steve for finding a shot that hasn’t been done before

As always every shot here is incredible.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s