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Henry David Thoreau’s “Walden, or Life in the Woods” Quotes (52 Quotes)


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  • 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.
    (Henry David Thoreau, "Walden, or Life in the Woods")

  • Follow your genius closely enough, and it will not fail to show you a fresh prospect every hour.
    (Henry David Thoreau, "Walden, or Life in the Woods")

  • Morning brings back the heroic ages. There was something cosmical about it; a standing advertisement, till forbidden, of the everlasting vigor and fertility of the world. The morning, which is the most memorable season of the day, is the awakening hour. Then there is least somnolence in us; and for an hour, at least, some part of us awakes which slumbers all the rest of the day and night.
    (Henry David Thoreau, "Walden, or Life in the Woods")

  • There are many fine things we cannot say if we have to shout.
    (Henry David Thoreau, "Walden, or Life in the Woods")

  • He is blessed who is assured that the animal is dying out in him every day by day, and the divine being established.
    (Henry David Thoreau, "Walden, or Life in the Woods")


  • My excuse for not lecturing against the use of tobacco is, that I never chewed it; that is a penalty which reformed tobacco chewers have to pay; though there are things enough I have chewed, which I could lecture against. If you should ever be betrayed into any of these philanthropies, do not let your left hand know what your right hand does , for it is not worth knowing. Rescue the drowning and tie your shoe-strings. Take your time, and set about some free labor.
    (Henry David Thoreau, "Walden, or Life in the Woods")

  • There are some who complain most energetically and inconsolably of any, because they are, as they say, doing their duty. I also have in my mind that seemingly wealthy, but most terribly impoverished class of all, who have accumulated dross, but know not how to use it, or get rid of it, and thus have forged their own golden or silver fetters.
    (Henry David Thoreau, "Walden, or Life in the Woods")

  • Here is life, an experiment to a great extent untried by me; but it does not avail me that they have tried it.
    (Henry David Thoreau, "Walden, or Life in the Woods")

  • My greatest skill in life has been to want but little
    (Henry David Thoreau, "Walden, or Life in the Woods")

  • There is more day left to dawn. The sun is but a morning star.
    (Henry David Thoreau, "Walden, or Life in the Woods")

  • I am convinced, both by faith and experience, that to maintain one's self on this earth is not a hardship but a passtime, if we live simply and wisely
    (Henry David Thoreau, "Walden, or Life in the Woods")

  • Nations are possessed with an insane ambition to perpetuate the memory of themselves by the amount of hammered stone they leave. What if equal pains were taken to smooth and polish their manners? One piece of good sense would be more memorable than a monument as high as the moon.
    (Henry David Thoreau, "Walden, or Life in the Woods")

  • Those things for which the most money is demanded are never the things which the student most wants. Tuition, for instance, is an important item in the term bill, while for the far more valuable education which he gets by associating with the most cultivated of his contemporaries no charge is made.
    (Henry David Thoreau, "Walden, or Life in the Woods")

  • I am no more lonely than the loon in the pond that laughs so loud, or than Walden Pond itself. What company has that lonely lake, I pray? And yet it has not the blue devils, but the blue angels in it, in the azure tint of its waters. The sun is alone, except in thick weather, when there sometimes appear to be two, but one is a mock sun. God is alone, - but the devil, he is far from being alone; he sees a great deal of company; he is legion.
    (Henry David Thoreau, "Walden, or Life in the Woods")

  • Nature is as well adapted to our weakness as to our strength.
    (Henry David Thoreau, "Walden, or Life in the Woods")


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