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Henry David Thoreau Quotes (701 Quotes)


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  • A taste for the beautiful is most cultivated out of doors
    (Henry David Thoreau, "Walden, or Life in the Woods")

  • I thus found that the student who wishes for a shelter can obtain one for a lifetime at an expense not greater than the rent which he now pays annually. If I seem to boast more than is becoming, my excuse is that I brag for humanity rather than for myself; and my shortcomings and inconsistencies do not affect the truth of my statement.
    (Henry David Thoreau, "Walden, or Life in the Woods")

  • 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 old musty cheese that we are.
    (Henry David Thoreau, "Walden, or Life in the Woods")

  • What demon possessed me that I behaved so well?
    (Henry David Thoreau, "Walden, or Life in the Woods")

  • A written word is the choicest of relics. It is something at once more intimate with us and more universal than any other work of art. It is the work of art nearest to life itself. It may be translated into every language, and not only be read but actually breathed from all human lips; -- not be represented on canvas or in marble only, but be carved out of the breath of life itself.
    (Henry David Thoreau, "Walden, or Life in the Woods")


  • I want the flower and fruit of a man; that some fragrance be wafted over from him to me, and some ripeness flavor our intercourse.
    (Henry David Thoreau, "Walden, or Life in the Woods")

  • 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, "Walden, or Life in the Woods")

  • When formerly I was looking about to see what I could do for a living... I thought often and seriously of picking huckleberries; that surely I could do.
    (Henry David Thoreau, "Walden, or Life in the Woods")

  • But man's capacities have never been measured; nor are we to judge of what he can do by any precedents, so little have been tried.
    (Henry David Thoreau, "Walden, or Life in the Woods")

  • If we respected only what is inevitable and has a right to be, music and poetry would resound along the streets.
    (Henry David Thoreau, "Walden, or Life in the Woods")

  • The gross feeder is a man in the larva state; and there are whole nations in that condition, nations without fancy or imagination, whose vast abdomens betray them.
    (Henry David Thoreau, "Walden, or Life in the Woods")

  • Commonly men will only be brave as their fathers were brave, or timid.
    (Henry David Thoreau, "Walden, or Life in the Woods")

  • In the long run, we only hit what we aim at.
    (Henry David Thoreau, "Walden, or Life in the Woods")

  • The heroic books, even if printed in the character of our mother tongue, will always be in a language dead to degenerate times; and we must laboriously seek the meaning of each word and line, conjecturing a larger sense than common use permits out of what wisdom and valor and generosity we have.
    (Henry David Thoreau, "Walden, or Life in the Woods")

  • Every day or two I strolled to the village to hear some of the gossip which is incessantly going on there, circulating either from mouth to mouth, or from newspaper to newspaper, and which, taken in homeopathic doses, was really as refreshing in its way as the rustle of leaves and the peeping of frogs.
    (Henry David Thoreau, "Walden, or Life in the Woods")


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