Inspirational quotes to feed your soul and brighten your day.

843 Inspiring Quotes by Henry David Thoreau

  • Last updated Jun 28 2021

Welcome to our collection of quotes by Henry David Thoreau.

Wikipedia Summary for Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau (see name pronunciation; July 12, 1817 – May 6, 1862) was an American naturalist, essayist, poet, and philosopher. A leading transcendentalist, he is best known for his book Walden, a reflection upon simple living in natural surroundings, and his essay "Civil Disobedience" (originally published as "Resistance to Civil Government"), an argument for disobedience to an unjust state.

Thoreau's books, articles, essays, journals, and poetry amount to more than 20 volumes. Among his lasting contributions are his writings on natural history and philosophy, in which he anticipated the methods and findings of ecology and environmental history, two sources of modern-day environmentalism. His literary style interweaves close observation of nature, personal experience, pointed rhetoric, symbolic meanings, and historical lore, while displaying a poetic sensibility, philosophical austerity, and attention to practical detail. He was also deeply interested in the idea of survival in the face of hostile elements, historical change, and natural decay; at the same time he advocated abandoning waste and illusion in order to discover life's true essential needs.

Thoreau was a lifelong abolitionist, delivering lectures that attacked the Fugitive Slave Law while praising the writings of Wendell Phillips and defending the abolitionist John Brown. Thoreau's philosophy of civil disobedience later influenced the political thoughts and actions of such notable figures as Leo Tolstoy, Mahatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther King Jr.

Thoreau is sometimes referred to as an anarchist. In "Civil Disobedience", Thoreau wrote: "I heartily accept the motto,—'That government is best which governs least;' and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I believe,—'That government is best which governs not at all;' and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have. [...] I ask for, not at once no government, but at once a better government."

--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau

Longer Version:

Measure your health by your sympathy with morning and spring. If there is no response in you to the awakening of nature -if the prospect of an early morning walk does not banish sleep, if the warble of the first bluebird does not thrill you -know that the morning and spring of your life are past. Thus may you feel your pulse.


--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau

Longer Version:

You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this, or the like of this. I wish to live ever as to derive my satisfactions and inspirations from the commonest events, everyday phenomena, so that what my senses hourly perceive, my daily walk, the conversation of my neighbors, may inspire me, and I may dream of no heaven but that which lies about me.


--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau

Longer Version:

The light which puts out our eyes is darkness to us. Only that day dawns to which we are awake. There is more day to dawn. The sun is but a morning star.


--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau

Longer Version:

We are all sculptors and painters, and our material is our own flesh and blood and bones. Any nobleness begins at once to refine a man's features, any meanness or sensuality to imbrue them.


--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
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--Henry David Thoreau
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--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau

Longer Version:

I was not born to be forced. I will breathe after my own fashion. Let us see who is the strongest. What force has a multitude? They can only force me who obey a higher law than I.... I do not hear of men being forced to live this way or that by masses of men. What sort of life were that to live?


--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau

Longer Version:

The first sparrow of spring! The year beginning with younger hope than ever!... What at such a time are histories, chronologies, traditions, and all written revelations? The brooks sing carols and glees to the spring.


--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau

Longer Version:

One cannot too soon forget his errors and misdemeanors for to dwell long upon them is to add to the offense, and repentance and sorrow can only be displaced by somewhat better, and which is as free and original as if they had not been.


--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
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--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau

Longer Version:

As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.


--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
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--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau

Longer Version:

Our life is frittered away by detail. An honest man has hardly need to count more than his ten fingers, or in extreme cases he may add his ten toes, and lump the rest. Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity!


--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
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--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau

Longer Version:

I have no doubt that it is a part of the destiny of the human race, in its gradual improvement, to leave off eating animals, as surely as savage tribes have left off eating each other when they came in contact with the more civilized.


--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau

Longer Version:

Give me the old familiar walk, post office and all, with this ever new self, with this infinite expectation and faith, which does not know when it is beaten. We'll go nutting once more. We'll pluck the nut of the world, and crack it in the winter evenings. Theaters and all other sightseeing are puppet-shows in comparison. I will take another walk to the Cliff, another row on the river, another skate on the meadow, be out in the first snow, and associate with the winter birds. Here I am at home. In the bare and bleached crust of the earth I recognize my friend.


--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau

Longer Version:

The fire is the main comfort of the camp, whether in summer or winter, and is about as ample at one season as at another. It is as well for cheerfulness as for warmth and dryness.


--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
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--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
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--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau

Longer Version:

It is in vain to dream of a wildness distant from ourselves. There is none such. It is the bog in our brains and bowels, the primitive vigor of Nature in us, that inspires that dream. I shall never find in the wilds of Labrador a greater wildness than in some recess of Concord.


--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau

Longer Version:

An efficient and valuable man does what he can, whether the community pay him for it or not. The inefficient offer their inefficiency to the highest bidder, and are forever expecting to be put into office. One would suppose that they were rarely disappointed.


--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau

Longer Version:

The success of great scholars and thinkers is commonly a courtier-like success, not kingly, not manly. They make shift to live merely by conformity, practically as their fathers did, and are in no sense the progenitors of a nobler race of men.


--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau

Longer Version:

My desire for knowledge is intermittent; but my desire to bathe my head in atmospheres unknown to my feet is perennial and constant. The highest that we can attain to is not Knowledge, but Sympathy with Intelligence. I do not know that this higher knowledge amounts to anything more definite than a novel and grand surprise on a sudden revelation of the insufficiency of all that we called Knowledge before,—a discovery that there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamed of in our philosophy.


--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau

Longer Version:

To him whose elastic and vigorous thought keeps pace with the sun, the day is a perpetual morning. It matters not what the clocks say or the attitudes and labors of men. Morning is when I am awake and there is a dawn in me.


--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau

Longer Version:

The stars are the jewels of the night, and perchance surpass anything which day has to show. A companion with whom I was sailing one very windy but bright moonlight night, when the stars were few and faint, thought that a man could get along with them,-though he was considerably reduced in his circumstances,-that they were a kind of bread and cheese that never failed.


--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau

Longer Version:

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms.


--Henry David Thoreau

Longer Version:

I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life.


--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau

Longer Version:

The sea-shore is a sort of neutral ground, a most advantageous point from which to contemplate this world. It is even a trivial place. The waves forever rolling to the land are too far-travelled and untamable to be familiar. Creeping along the endless beach amid the sun-squall and the foam, it occurs to us that we, too, are the product of sea-slime.


--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
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--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
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--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
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--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
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--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
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--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
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--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
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--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau

Longer Version:

The fault-finder will find faults even in paradise. Love your life, poor as it is. You may perhaps have some pleasant, thrilling, glorious hours, even in a poor-house. The setting sun is reflected from the windows of the alms-house as brightly as from the rich man's abode; the snow melts before its door as early in the spring. I do not see but a quiet mind may live as contentedly there, and have as cheering thoughts, as in a palace.


--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau

Longer Version:

The repugnance to animal food is not the effect of experience, but is an instinct. It appeared more beautiful to live low and fare hard in many respects; and though I never did so, I went far enough to please my imagination.


--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau

Longer Version:

In the long run, men hit only what they aim at. Therefore, though they should fail immediately, they had better aim at something high.


--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau

Longer Version:

A single gentle rain makes the grass many shades greener. So our prospects brighten on the influx of better thoughts. We should be blessed if we lived in the present always, and took advantage of every accident that befell us, like the grass which confesses the influence of the slightest dew that falls on it; and did not spend our time in atoning for the neglect of past opportunities, which we call our duty. We loiter in winter while it is already spring. In a pleasant spring morning all men's sins are forgiven.


--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau

Longer Version:

I come to my solitary woodland walk as the homesick go home. I thus dispose of the superfluous and see things as they are, grand and beautiful.


--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
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--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau

Longer Version:

Nothing makes the earth seem so spacious as to have friends at a distance, they make the latitudes and longitudes.


--Henry David Thoreau

Longer Version:

Let us spend one day as deliberately as Nature, and not be thrown off track by every nutshell and mosquito's wing that falls on the rails. Let us rise early and fast, or break fast, gently and without perturbation; let company come and let company go, let the bells ring and the children cry,-determine to make a day of it.


--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau

Longer Version:

We need the tonic of wildness…At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature.


--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau

Longer Version:

I would remind my countrymen, that they are to be men first, and Americans only at a late and convenient hour. No matter how valuable law may be to protect your property, even to keep soul and body together, if it do not keep you and humanity together.


--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau

Longer Version:

The frontiers are not east or west, north or south; but wherever a man fronts a fact, though that fact be a neighbor, there is an unsettled wilderness between him and Canada, between him and the setting sun, or, farther still, between him and it. Let him build himself a log house with the bark on where he is, fronting it, and wage there an Old French war for seven or seventy years, with Indians and Rangers, or whatever else may come between him and the reality, and save his scalp if he can.


--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
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--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau

Longer Version:

We can never have enough of nature. We must be refreshed by the sight of inexhaustible vigor, vast and titanic features, the sea-coast with its wrecks, the wilderness with its living and its decaying trees, the thunder-cloud, and the rain.


--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau

Longer Version:

The stars are the apexes of what wonderful triangles! What distant and different beings in the various mansions of the universe are contemplating the same one at the same moment! Nature and human life are as various as our several constitutions. Who shall say what prospect life offers to another? Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other's eyes for an instant?


--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau

Longer Version:

Every child begins the world again, to some extent, and loves to stay outdoors, even in wet and cold. It plays house, as well as horse, having an instinct for it...At last we know not what it is to live in the open air, and our lives are domestic in more senses than we think.


--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau

Longer Version:

The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation. From the desperate city you go into the desperate country, and have to console yourself with the bravery of minks and muskrats. A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind. There is no play in them, for this comes after work. But it is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things.


--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
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--Henry David Thoreau
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--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau

Longer Version:

The language of friendship is not words , but rather meanings. It is an intelligence above language.


--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau

Longer Version:

If you would convince a man that he does wrong, do right. But do not care to convince him. Men will believe what they see. Let them see.


--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau

Longer Version:

I would rather sit on a pumpkin and have it all to myself than be crowded on a velvet cushion. I would rather ride on earth in an ox cart, with a free circulation, than go to heaven in the fancy car of an excursion train and breathe a malaria all the way.


--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau

Longer Version:

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. It is not important that he should mature as soon as an apple-tree or oak. Shall he turn his spring into summer? If the condition of things which we were made for is not yet, what were any reality which we can substitute? We will not be shipwrecked on a vain reality.


--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau

Longer Version:

All endeavor calls for the ability to tramp the last mile, shape the last plan, endure the last hours toil. The fight to the finish spirit is the one... characteristic we must posses if we are to face the future as finishers.


--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau

Longer Version:

Cultivate poverty like a garden herb, like sage. Do not trouble yourself much to get new things, whether clothes or friends. Turn the old; return to them. Things do not change; we change. Sell your clothes and keep your thoughts. God will see that you do not want society.


--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau

Longer Version:

Our manners have been corrupted by communication with the saints. Our hymn-books resound with a melodious cursing of God and enduring Him forever. One would say that even the prophets and redeemers had rather consoled the fears than confirmed the hopes of man. There is nowhere recorded a simple and irrepressible satisfaction with the gift of life, any memorable praise of God.


--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau

Longer Version:

To say that a man is your Friend, means commonly no more than this, that he is not your enemy. Most contemplate only what would be the accidental and trifling advantages of Friendship, as that the Friend can assist in time of need by his substance, or his influence, or his counsel. Even the utmost goodwill and harmony and practical kindness are not sufficient for Friendship, for Friends do not live in harmony merely, as some say, but in melody.


--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau

Longer Version:

I believe that water is the only drink for a wise man: wine is not so noble a liquor; and think of dashing the hopes of a morningwith a cup of warm coffee, or of an evening with a dish of tea! Ah, how low I fall when I am tempted by them! Even music may be intoxicating. Such apparently slight causes destroyed Greece and Rome, and will destroy England and America.


--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau

Longer Version:

The tavern will compare favorably with the church. The church is the place where prayers and sermons are delivered, but the tavern is where they are to take effect, and if the former are good, the latter cannot be bad.


--Henry David Thoreau

Longer Version:

As I love nature, as I love singing birds, and gleaming stubble, and flowing rivers, and morning and evening, and summer and winter, I love thee, my Friend.


--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau

Longer Version:

The most attractive sentences are, perhaps, not the wisest, but the surest and roundest. They are spoken firmly and conclusively,as if the speaker had a right to know what he says, and if not wise, they have at least been well learned.


--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau

Longer Version:

If the injustice is part of the necessary friction of the machine of government, let it go, let it go: perchance it will wear smooth--certainly the machine will wear out… but if it is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then I say, break the law. Let your life be a counter-friction to stop the machine. What I have to do is to see, at any rate, that I do not lend myself to the wrong which I condemn.


--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau

Longer Version:

lBooks are the treasured wealth of the world and the fit inheritance of generations and nations. Books, the oldest and the best, stand naturally and rightfully on the shelves of every cottage. They have no cause of their own to plead, but while they enlighten and sustain the reader his common sense will not refuse them. Their authors are a natural and irresistible aristocracy in every society, and, more than kings or emperors, exert an influence on mankind.


--Henry David Thoreau

Longer Version:

Society is commonly too cheap. We meet at very short intervals, not having had time to acquire any new value for each other.We meet at meals three times a day, and give each other a new taste of that musty old cheese that we are. We have had to agree on a certain set of rules, called etiquette and politeness, to make this frequent meeting tolerable and that we need not come to open war. We meet at the post office, and at the sociable, and at the fireside every night; we live thick and are in each other's way, and stumble over one another, and I think that we thus lose some respect for one another.


--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau

Longer Version:

In short, all good things are wild and free. There is something in a strain of music, whether produced by an instrument or by the human voice,--take the sound of a bugle in a summer night, for instance,--which by its wildness, to speak without satire, reminds me of the cries emitted by wild beasts in their native forests. It is so much of their wildness as I can understand. Give me for my friends and neighbors wild men, not tame ones. The wildness of the savage is but a faint symbol of the awful ferity with which good men and lovers meet.


--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau

Longer Version:

The true harvest of my daily life is somewhat as intangible and indescribably as the tints of morning or evening. It is a little star-dust caught, a segment of the rainbow which I have clutched.


--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau

Longer Version:

It is remarkable how easily and insensibly we fall into a particular route, and make a beaten track for ourselves. I had not lived there a week before my feet wore a path from my door to the pond-side; and though it is five or six years since I trod it, it is still quite distinct. It is true, I fear, that others may have fallen into it, and so helped to keep it open. The surface of the earth is soft and impressible by the feet of men; and so with the paths which the mind travels. How worn and dusty, then, must be the highways of the world, how deep the ruts of tradition and conformity!


--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau

Longer Version:

I am struck by the fact that the more slowly trees grow at first, the sounder they are at the core, and I think that the same is true of human beings. We do not wish to see children precocious, making great strides in their early years like sprouts, producing a soft and perishable timber, but better if they expand slowly at first, as if contending with difficulties, and so are solidified and perfected. Such trees continue to expand with nearly equal rapidity to extreme old age.


--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau

Longer Version:

lIt's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see - i.e. compare it to, something worse or better, that determines whether you are respectively grateful and happy or ungrateful and bitter.


--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau

Longer Version:

No way of thinking or doing, however ancient, can be trusted without proof. What everybody echoes or in silence passes by as true to-day may turn out to be falsehood to-morrow.


--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau

Longer Version:

lIf one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. He will put some things behind, will pass an invisible boundary; new, universal, and more liberal laws will begin to establish themselves around and within him; or the old laws be expanded, and interpreted in his favor in a more liberal sense, and he will live with the license of a higher order of beings.


--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau

Longer Version:

Most of the luxuries and many of the so-called comforts of life are not only not indispensable but positive hindrances to our progress. Our life is frittered away by detail. I say let your affairs be as two or three, not a hundred or a thousand. And keep your accounts on your thumb nail.


--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau

Longer Version:

Do not despair of life. You have no doubt force enough to overcome your obstacles. Think of the fox prowling through wood and field in a winter night for something to satisfy his hunger. Notwithstanding cold and the hounds and traps, his race survives. I do not believe any of them ever committed suicide.


--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau

Longer Version:

I heartily accept the motto, "That government is best which governs least"; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I believe — "That government is best which governs not at all"; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have. Government is at best but an expedient; but most governments are usually, and all governments are sometimes, inexpedient.


--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau

Longer Version:

He is not a true man of science who does not bring some sympathy to his studies, and expect to learn something by behavior as well as by application. It is childish to rest in the discovery of mere coincidences, or of partial and extraneous laws. The study of geometry is a petty and idle exercise of the mind, if it is applied to no larger system than the starry one. Mathematics should be mixed not only with physics but with ethics; that is mixed mathematics. The fact which interests us most is the life of the naturalist. The purest science is still biographical.


--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau

Longer Version:

Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.


--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau

Longer Version:

I have met with but one or two persons in the course of my life who understood the art of Walking, that is, of taking walks - who had the genius, so to speak, for sauntering: which word is beautifully derived "from idle people who roved about the country, in the Middle Ages, and asked for charity, under the pretense of going à la Sainte Terre," to the Holy Land, till the children exclaimed, "There goes a Sainte-Terrer," a Saunterer, a Holy-Lander.


--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau

Longer Version:

elPhilanthropy is almost the only virtue which is sufficiently appreciated by mankind. Nay, it is overrated; and it is our selfishness which overrates it.


--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau

Longer Version:

However mean your life is, meet it and live it; do not shun it and call it hard names. It is not so bad as you are. It looks poorest when you are richest. The fault-finder will find faults even in paradise. Love your life, poor as it is. You may perhaps have some pleasant, thrilling, glorious hours, even in a poorhouse. The setting sun is reflected from the windows of the almshouse as brightly as from the rich man's abode; the snow melts before its door as early in the spring. I do not see but a quiet mind may live as contentedly there, and have as cheering thoughts, as in a palace.


--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau

Longer Version:

The universe constantly and obediently answers to our conceptions; whether we travel fast or slow, the track is laid for us. Let us spend our lives in conceiving then. The poet or the artist never yet had so fair and noble a design but some of his posterity at least could accomplish it.


--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau

Longer Version:

lTo be awake is to be completely alive. I have never yet met a man who was quite awake.


--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau

Longer Version:

No man with a genius for legislation has appeared in America. They are rare in the history of the world. There are orators, politicians, and eloquent men, by the thousand; but the speaker has not yet opened his mouth to speak who is capable of settling the much-vexed questions of the day. We love eloquence for its own sake, and not for any truth which it may utter, or any heroism it may inspire. Our legislators have not yet learned the comparative value of free trade and of freedom, of union, and of rectitude, to a nation.


--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau

Longer Version:

This world is a place of business. What an infinite bustle! I am awaked almost every night by the panting of the locomotive. It interrupts my dreams. There is no sabbath. It would be glorious to see mankind at leisure for once. It is nothing but work, work, work. I cannot easily buy a blank-book to write thoughts in; they are commonly ruled for dollars and cents. An Irishman, seeing me making a minute in the fields, took it for granted that I was calculating my wages. If a man was tossed out of a window when an infant, and so made a cripple for life, or scared out of his wits by the Indians, it is regretted chiefly because he was thus incapacitated for—business! I think that there is nothing, not even crime, more opposed to poetry, to philosophy, ay, to life itself, than this incessant business.


--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau
--Henry David Thoreau

Longer Version:

I find it wholesome to be alone the greater part of the time. To be in company, even with the best, is soon wearisome and dissipating. I love to be alone. I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude.


--Henry David Thoreau

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