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Henry David Thoreau Quotes & Sayings

Enjoy the top 100 famous quotes, sayings and quotations by Henry David Thoreau.

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Henry David Thoreau Quotes 846852

A worm is as good a traveler as a grasshopper or a cricket, and a much wiser settler. With all their activity these do not hop away from drought nor forward to summer. We do not avoid evil by fleeing before it, but by rising above or diving below its plane; as the worm escapes drought and frost by boring a few inches deeper. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 236187

The progress from an absolute to a limited monarchy, from a limited monarchy to a democracy, is a progress toward a true respect for the individual. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 663198

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 ... But lo! men have become the tools of their tools ... We have built for this world a family mansion, and for the next a family tomb. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 914539

Summer passes into autumn in some unimaginable point of time, like the turning of a leaf. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 648831

Pray, for what do we move ever but to get rid of our furniture, our exuviae; at last to go from this world to another newly furnished, and leave this to be burned? — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 1065692

In books, that which is most generally interesting is what comes home to the most cherished private experience of the greatest number. It is not the book of him who has travelled the farthest over the surface of the globe, but of him who has lived the deepest and been the most at home. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 610748

In my walks I would fain return to my senses. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 2053696

Nature has taken more care than the fondest parent for the education and refinement of her children. Consider the silent influencewhich flowers exert, no less upon the ditcher in the meadow than the lady in the bower. When I walk in the woods, I am reminded that a wise purveyor has been there before me; my most delicate experience is typified there. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 1365099

For a man to act himself, he must be perfectly free; otherwise he is in danger of losing all sense of responsibility or of self- respect. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 105898

I have been as sincere a worshipper of Aurora as the Greeks. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 1215753

As long as I have the friendship of the sesasons life will never be a burden to me. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 1178441

That grand old poem called Winter — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 1707805

It is not all books that are as dull as their readers. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 1330733

Beside some philosophers of larger vision, Carlyle stands like an honest, half-despairing boy, grasping at some details only of their world systems. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 1302799

Wherever you have planted a seed, I am prepared to expect wonders. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 79222

The poet who walks by moonlight is conscious of a tide in his thought which is to be referred to lunar influence. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 93098

He who cannot read is worse than deaf and blind, is yet but half alive, is still-born. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 113695

For more than five years I maintained myself thus solely by the labour of my hands, and I found, that by working about six weeks in a year, I could meet all the expenses of living. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 115747

What is most of our boasted so-called knowledge but a conceit that we know something, which robs us of the advantage of our actual ignorance? — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 156934

When I hear music, I fear no danger. I am invulnerable. I see no foe. I am related to the earliest times, and to the latest. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 266657

It would be worth the while if in each town there were a committee appointed to see that the beauty of the town received no detriment. If we have the largest boulder in the county, then it should not belong to an individual, nor be made into door-steps. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 281854

No man ever followed his genius till it misled him. Though the result were bodily weakness, yet perhaps no one can say that the consequences were to be regretted, for these were a life in conformity to higher principles. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 302011

Keep pace with the drummer you hear, however measured or far away. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 386808

There is considerable danger that a man will be crazy between dinner and supper; but it will not directly answer any good purposethat I know of, and it is just as easy to be sane. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 397350

They make their pride," he said, "in making their dinner cost much; I make my pride in making my dinner cost little." When asked at table what dish he preferred, he answered, "The nearest. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 446534

Where there is a brave man, in the thickest of the fight, there is the post of honor. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 446749

Books, not which afford us a cowering enjoyment, but in which each thought is of unusual daring; such as an idle man cannot read, and a timid one would not be entertained by, which even make us dangerous to existing institution - such call I good books. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 498604

I will not allow mere names to make distinctions for me, but still see men in herds for all them. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 499971

Whose are the truly labored sentences? From the weak and flimsy periods of the politician and literary man, we are glad to turn even to the description of work, the simple record of the month's labor in the farmer's almanac, to restore our tone and spirits. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 507950

It is worth the expense of youthful days and costly hours, if you learn only some words of an ancient language, which are raised out of the trivialness of the street, to be perpetual suggestions and provocations. It is not in vain that the farmer remembers and repeats the few Latin words which he has heard. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 512235

The mass never comes up to the standard of its best member, but on the contrary degrades itself to a level with the lowest. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 530880

As the least drop of wine tinges the whole goblet, so the least particle of truth colors our whole life. It is never isolated, or simply added as treasure to our stock. When any real progress is made, we unlearn and learn anew what we thought we knew before. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 565011

No doubt Carlyle has a propensity to exaggerate the heroic in history, that is, he creates you an ideal hero rather than another thing ... Yet what were history if he did not exaggerate it? How comes it that history never has to wait for facts, but for a man to write it? The ages may go on forgetting the facts never so long, he can remember two for every one forgotten. The musty records of history, like the catacombs, contain the perishable remains, but only in the breast of genius are embalmed the souls of heroes. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 603785

When it's time to die, let us not discover that we have never lived. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 610721

Where there is a lull in truth an institution springs up. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 614004

Show me two villages, one embowered in trees and blazing with all the glories of October, the other a merely trivial and treelesswaste, or with only a single tree or two for suicides, and I shall be sure that in the latter will be found the most starved and bigoted religionists and the most desperate drinkers. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 618726

On the whole, my respect for my fellow-men, except as one may outweigh a million, is not being increased these days ... Such do not know that like the seed is the fruit, and that, in the moral world, when good seed is planted, good fruit is inevitable, and does not depend on our watering and cultivating; that when you plant, or bury, a hero in his field, a crop of heroes is sure to spring up. This is a seed of such force and vitality, that it does not ask our leave to germinate. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 745699

I left the woods for as good a reason as I went there. Perhaps it seemed to me that I had several more lives to live, and could not spare any more time for that one. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 749598

Unprepared; but improvement is slow, because the few are not as materially wiser or better than the many. It is not so important that many should be good as you, as that there be some absolute goodness somewhere; for that will leaven the whole lump. There are thousands who are in opinion opposed to slavery and to the war, who yet in effect do nothing to — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 797897

Talk about slavery! It is not the peculiar institution of the South. It exists wherever men are bought and sold, wherever a man allows himself to be made a mere thing or a tool, and surrenders his inalienable rights of reason and conscience. Indeed, this slavery is more complete than that which enslaves the body alone ... I never yet met with, or heard of, a judge who was not a slave of this kind, and so the finest and most unfailing weapon of injustice. He fetches a slightly higher price than the black men only because he is a more valuable slave. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 817226

When I hear the hypercritical quarreling about grammar and style, the position of the particles, etc., etc., stretching or contracting every speaker to certain rules of theirs. I see that they forget that the first requisite and rule is that expression shall be vital and natural, as much as the voice of a brute or an interjection: first of all, mother tongue; and last of all, artificial or father tongue. Essentially your truest poetic sentence is as free and lawless as a lamb's bleat. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 850192

Books are to be distinguished by the grandeur of their topics even more than by the manner in which they are treated. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 855838

It's not worth our while to let our imperfections disturb us always. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 859587

I have climbed several higher mountains without guide or path, and have found, as might be expected, that it takes only more time and patience commonly than to travel the smoothest highway. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 864154

Some of my pleasantest hours were during the long rain-storms in the spring or fall, which confined me to the house for the afternoon as well as the forenoon, soothed by their ceaseless roar and pelting; when an early twilight ushered in a long evening in which many thoughts had time to take root and unfold themselves. In those driving northeast rains which tried the village houses so, when the maids stood ready with mop and pail in front entries to keep the deluge out, I sat behind my door in my little house, which was all entry, and thoroughly enjoyed its protection. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 879401

Continued traveling is far from productive. It begins with wearing away the soles of the shoes, and making the feet sore, and erelong it will wear a man clean up, after making his heart sore into the bargain. I have observed that the afterlife of those who have traveled much is very pathetic. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 911975

This generation has come into the world fatally late for some enterprises. Go where we will on the surface of things, men have been there before us ... But the lives of men, though more extended laterally in their range, are still as shallow as ever. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 926226

The ways by which you get money almost without exception lead downward — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 933430

No face which we can give to a matter will stead us so well at last as the truth. This alone wears well. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 994975

In a pure society, the subject of marriage would not be so often avoided,
from shame and not from reverence, winked out of sight,and hinted at only; but treated naturally and simply,
perhaps simply avoided like the kindred mysteries. If it cannot be spoken of for shame, how can it be acted of? But, doubtless, there is far more purity, as well as more impurity, than is apparent. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 1006299

How many things there are concerning which we might well deliberate whether we had better know them. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 1040891

He who cuts down woods beyond a certain limit exterminates birds. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 1068078

The true price of anything you do is the amount of time you exchange for it. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 1115381

The pleasures of the intellect are permanent, the pleasures of the heart are transitory. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 1116030

I trust that some may be as near and dear to Buddha, or Christ, or Swedenborg, who are without the pale of their churches. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 1118703

A familiar name cannot make a man less strange to me. It may be given to a savage who retains in secret his own wild title earnedin the woods. We have a wild savage in us, and a savage name is perchance somewhere recorded as ours. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 1139531

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 Quotes 1181997

Let me live where I will, on this side is the city, on that the wilderness, and ever I am leaving the city more and more, and withdrawing into the wilderness. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 1209978

A noble person confers no such gift as his whole confidence: none so exalts the giver and the receiver; it produces the truest gratitude. Perhaps it is only essential to friendship that some vital trust should have been reposed by the one in the other. I feel addressed and probed even to the remotest parts of my being when one nobly shows, even in trivial things, an implicit faith in me ... A threat or a curse may be forgotten, but this mild trust translates me. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 1224156

This is the frost coming out of the ground; this is Spring. It precedes the green and flowery spring, as mythology precedes regular poetry. I — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 1269072

The rich man is always sold to the institution which makes him rich. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 1453259

Give me a sentence which no intelligence can understand. There must be a kind of life and palpitation to it, and under its words akind of blood must circulate forever. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 1468843

Routine is a ground to stand on, a wall to retreat to; we cannot draw on our boots without bracing ourselves against it. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 1478971

Within the memory of many of my townsmen the road near which my house stands resounded with the laugh and gossip of inhabitants, and the woods which border it were notched and dotted here and there with their little gardens and dwellings, though it was then much more shut in by the forest than now. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 1497161

The spruce and cedar on its shores, hung with gray lichens, looked at a distance like the ghosts of trees. Ducks were sailing here and there on its surface, and a solitary loon, like a more living wave, - a vital spot on the lake's surface, - laughed and frolicked, and showed its straight leg, for our amusement. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 1499727

Who knows what the human body would expand and flow out to under a more genial heaven? — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 1526754

As in geology, so in social institutions, we may discover the causes of all past changes in the present invariable order of society. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 1547047

If a man who has no property refuses but once to earn nine shillings for the State, he is put in prison for a period unlimited by any law that I know, and determined only by the discretion of those who put him there; but if he should steal ninety times nine shillings from the State, he is soon permitted to go at large again. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 1564135

We never exchange more than three words with a Friend in our lives on that level to which our thoughts and feelings almost habitually rise. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 1586647

Men talk of freedom! How many are free to think? Free from fear, from perturbation, from prejudice? Nine hundred and ninety-nine in a thousand are perfect slaves. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 1603166

Really, there is no infidelity, nowadays, so great as that which prays, and keeps the Sabbath, and rebuilds the churches. The sealer of the South Pacific preaches a truer doctrine. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 1646821

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 Quotes 1671535

In Adam's fall We sinned all. In the new Adam's rise, We shall all reach the skies. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 1720357

If the laborer gets no more than the wages which his employer pays him, he is cheated, he cheats himself. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 1742407

I have seen some who did not know when to turn aside their eyes in meeting yours. A truly confident and magnanimous spirit is wiser than to contend for the mastery in such encounters. Serpents alone conquer by the steadiness of their gaze. My friend looks me in the face and sees me, that is all. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 1755780

Some circumstantial evidence is very strong, as when you find a trout in the milk. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 1768052

Only the defeated and deserters go to war. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 1778459

The true harvest of my life is intangible - a little star dust caught, a portion of the rainbow I have clutched. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 1785429

One large bundle held their all - bed, coffee-mill, looking-glass, hens - all but the cat; she took to the woods and became a wild cat, and, as I learned afterward, trod in a trap set for woodchucks, and so became a dead cat at last. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 1786163

Carlyle said that how to observe was to look, but I say that it is rather to see, and the more you look the less you will observe. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 1800321

Here or nowhere is our heaven. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 1813158

It is impossible to say all that we think, even to our truest Friend. We may bid him farewell forever sooner than complain, for our complaint is too well grounded to be uttered. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 1839079

Thank God men cannot fly, and lay waste the sky as well as the earth. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 1847024

Some show their kindness to the poor by employing them in their kitchens. Would they not be kinder if they employed themselves there? — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 1876373

How often, when we have been nearest each other bodily, have we really been farthest off! Our tongues were the witty foils with which we fenced each other off. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 1923385

A man cannot be said to succeed in this life who does not satisfy one friend. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 1944002

Where there is not discernment, the behavior even of the purest soul may in effect amount to coarseness. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 1946207

I desire that there be as many different persons in the world as possible; I would have each one be very careful to find out and preserve his own way. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 1958328

I bought me a spy-glass some weeks since. I buy but a few things, and those not till long after I begin to want them, so that when I do get them I am prepared to make a perfect use of them and extract their whole sweet. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 1968430

The flowers of the apple are perhaps the most beautiful of any tree's, so copious and so delicious to both sight and scent. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 2008499

Say, Not so, and you will out circle the philosophers. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 2015653

Speech is for the convenience of those who are hard of hearing; but there are many fine things which we cannot say if we have to shout. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 2028188

For my part, I would rather look toward Rutland than Jerusalem. Rutland,
modern town,
land of ruts,
trivial and worn,
not toosacred,
with no holy sepulchre, but profane green fields and dusty roads, and opportunity to live as holy a life as you can, where the sacredness, if there is any, is all in yourself and not in the place. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 2028333

The orator puts off his individuality, and is then most eloquent when most silent. He listens while he speaks, and is a hearer along with his audience. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 2028521

We are constantly invited to be what we are. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 2058204

To read well, that is, to read true books in a true spirit, is a noble exercise ... — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 2060277

Fishermen, hunters, woodchoppers, and others, spending their lives in the fields and woods, in a peculiar sense a part of Nature themselves, are often in a more favorable mood for observing her, in the intervals of their pursuits, than philosophers or poets even, who approach her with expectation. She is not afraid to exhibit herself to them. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 2061925

The Musketaquid, or Grass-ground River, though probably as old as the Nile or Euphrates, did not begin to have a place in civilized history until the fame of its grassy meadows and fish attracted settlers out of England in 1635, when it received the other but kindred name of CONCORD from the first plantation on its banks, which appears to have commenced in a spirit of peace and harmony. It will be Grass-ground River as long as grass grows and water runs here; it will be Concord River only while men lead peacable lives on its banks. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 2104360

I felt a positive yearning toward one bush this afternoon. There was a match found for me at last. I fell in love with a shrub oak. — Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes 2122415

The present hour is always wealthiest when it is poorer than the future ones, as that is the pleasantest site which affords the pleasantest prospect. — Henry David Thoreau