Henry David Thoreau Quotes on Man (102 Quotes)


    I found in myself, and still find, an instinct toward a higher, or, as it is named, spiritual life, as do most men, and another toward a primitive rank and savage one, and I reverence them both. I love the wild not less than the good.




    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! I did not wish to take a cabin passage, but rather to go before the mast and on the deck of the world, for there I could best see the moonlight amid the mountains.


    What demon possessed me that I behaved so well? You may say the wisest thing you can old man, - you who have lived seventy years, not without honor of a kind,- I hear an irresistible voice which invites me away from all that.

    A man who has at length found something to do will not need to get a new suit to do it in. If there is not a new man, how can the new clothes be made to fit? All men want, not something to do with, but something to do, or rather something to be. Perhaps we should never procure a new suit until we have so conducted that we feel like new men in the old.

    Public opinion is a weak tyrant compared with our own private opinion. What a man thinks of himself, that it is which determines, or rather indicates, his fate.

    Every man is the builder of a temple, called his body, to the god he worships, after a style purely his own, nor can he get off by hammering marble instead. We are all sculptors and painters, and our material is our own flesh and blood and bones.

    Why level downward to our dullest perception always, and praise that as common sense The commonest sense is the sense of men asleep, which they express by snoring.

    But why should not the New Englander try new adventures not lay so much stress on his grain, his potato and grass crop, and his orchards and raise other crops than these Why concern ourselves so much about our beans for seed, and not be concerned at all about a new generation of men.

    The generative energy, which, when we are loose, dissipates and makes us unclean, when we are continent invigorates and inspires us. Chastity is the flowering of man and what are called Genius, Heroism, Holiness, and the like, are but various fruits which succeed it.

    If you would convince a man that he does wrong, do right. Men will believe what they see.




    Through want of enterprise and faith men are where they are, buying and selling and spending their lives like servants.


    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.

    We falsely attribute to men a determined character putting together all their yesterdays and averaging them we presume we know them. Pity the man who has character to support it is worse than a large family he is the silent poor indeed.

    Some are reputed sick and some are not. It often happens that the sicker man is the nurse to the sounder.

    It is remarkable how closely the history of the apple tree is connected with that of man.

    How does it become a man to behave towards the American government today? I answer, that he cannot without disgrace be associated with it.



    Children, who play life, discern its true law and relations more clearly than men, who fail to live it worthily, but who think that they are wiser by experience, that is, by failure.

    The Artist is he who detects and applies the law from observation of the works of Genius, whether of man or Nature. The Artisan is he who merely applies the rules which others have detected.

    I have never found a companion that was so companionable as solitude. We are for the most part more lonely when we go abroad among men than when we stay in our chambers. A man thinking or working is always alone, let him be where he will.

    What I have been preparing to say is this, in wildness is the preservation of the world ... Life consists of wildness. The most alive is the wildest. Not yet subdued by man, its presence refreshes him.... When I would re-create myself, I seek the darkest wood, the thickest and most interminable and to the citizen, most dismal, swamp. I enter as a sacred place, a Sanctum sanctorum. There is the strength, the marrow, of Nature. In short, all good things are wild and free.

    Men go back to the mountains, as they go back to sailing ships at sea, because in the mountains and on the sea they must face up.


    More Henry David Thoreau Quotations (Based on Topics)


    Man - Life - Nature - Mind - Friendship - World - Truth - Money & Wealth - Thought & Thinking - Law & Regulation - Love - Society & Civilization - Time - Dreams - Morning - God - Wisdom & Knowledge - Work & Career - Books - View All Henry David Thoreau Quotations

    More Henry David Thoreau Quotations (By Book Titles)


    - Walden, or Life in the Woods
    - Walden

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