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
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.
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.
And I am sure that I never read any memorable news in a newspaper. If we read of one man robbed, or murdered, or killed by accident, or one house burned, or one vessel wrecked, or one steamboat blown up, or one cow run over on the Western Railroad, or one mad dog killed, or one lot of grasshoppers in the winter, - we need never read of another. One is enough. If you are acquainted with the principle, what do you care for a myriad instances and applications?
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.
Nature is as well adapted to our weakness as to our strength.
To be alone was something unpleasant. But I was at the same time conscious of a slight insanity in my mood, and seemed to foresee my recovery.
No man ever followed his genius til it misled him.
I believe that every man who has ever been earnest to preserve his higher or poetic faculties in the best condition has been particularly inclined to abstain from animal food, and from much food of any kind.
Next to us is not the workman whom we have hired, with whom we love so well to talk, but the workman whose work we are.
We are underbred and low-lived and illiterate; and in this respect I confess I do not make any very broad distinction between the illiterateness of my townsmen who cannot read at all, and the illiterateness of him who has learned to read only what is for children and feeble intellects.
The church is a sort of hospital for men's souls and as full of quackery as the hospital for their bodies.
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.
O how I laugh when I think of my vague indefinite riches. No run on my bank can drain it, for my wealth is not possession but enjoyment.
We cannot but pity the boy who has never fired a gun,
A man must find his occasions in himself, it is true. The natural day is very calm, and will hardly reprove his indolence.
I like sometimes to take rank hold on life and spend my day more as the animals do.
Say what you have to say, not what you ought. Any truth is better than make-believe.
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.
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.
I silently smiled at my incessant good fortune.
Shall we always study to obtain more of these things, and not sometimes to be content with less?
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 taste for the beautiful is most cultivated out of doors
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.
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.
What demon possessed me that I behaved so well?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If we respected only what is inevitable and has a right to be, music and poetry would resound along the streets.
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.
Commonly men will only be brave as their fathers were brave, or timid.
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.
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.
It is by a mathematical point only that we are wise, as the sailor or fugitive slave keeps the polestar in his eye; but that is sufficient guidance for all our life. We may not arrive at our port within a calculable period, but we would preserve the true course.
The light which puts out our eyes is darkness to us.
Every morning was a cheerful invitation to make my life of equal simplicity, and I may say innocence, with Nature herself.
It is desirable that a man live in all respects so simply and preparedly that if an enemy take the town... he can walk out the gate empty-handed and without anxiety.
The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation.
Every path but your own is the path of fate. Keep on your own track, then.
Man wanted a home, a place for warmth, or comfort, first of physical warmth, then the warmth of the affections.
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.
Follow your genius closely enough, and it will not fail to show you a fresh prospect every hour.
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.
There are many fine things we cannot say if we have to shout.
He is blessed who is assured that the animal is dying out in him every day by day, and the divine being established.
More Henry David Thoreau Quotations (Based on Topics)
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More Henry David Thoreau Quotations (By Book Titles)
- Walden, or Life in the Woods
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