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Henry David Thoreau (1817 – 1862)


American writer and philosopher; born David Henry Thoreau.
Henry David Thoreau
Any fool can make a rule
And any fool will mind it.
Thoreau quotes
Do not hire a man who does your work for money, but him who does it for love of it.
Thoreau
In wildness is the preservation of the world.




Thoreau Henry David quotes
Among American writers Thoreau was the pioneer of nature-study. Audubon had preceded him but he worked mainly with the brush; to multitudes Thoreau opened the gate to the secrets of our natural environment. The subtle delicacy of the grass-blade, the crystals of the snowflake, the icicle, the marvel of the weird lines traced by the flocks of wild geese athwart the heavens as they migrated, these he watched and recorded with loving accuracy and sensitive poetic feeling as no one in our land before had done. I have thrown a stone upon the cairn at Walden Pond which has now grown so high through the tributes of his grateful admirers. I shall throw still others in grateful admiration if the opportunity comes to me.
Thoreau Henry David
My books I'd fain cast off, I cannot read,
'Twixt every page my thoughts go stray at large
Down in the meadow, where is richer feed,
And will not mind to hit their proper targe.
Henry David Thoreau quotes
It is a great art to saunter.
Henry David Thoreau
Nature is full of genius, full of the divinity; so that not a snowflake escapes its fashioning hand.
Thoreau Henry David quotes
The hidden significance of these fables which is sometimes thought to have been detected, the ethics running parallel to the poetry and history, are not so remarkable as the readiness with which they may be made to express a variety of truths. As if they were the skeletons of still older and more universal truths than any whose flesh and blood they are for the time made to wear. It is like striving to make the sun, or the wind, or the sea symbols to signify exclusively the particular thoughts of our day. But what signifies it? In the mythus a superhuman intelligence uses the unconscious thoughts and dreams of men as its hieroglyphics to address men unborn. In the history of the human mind, these glowing and ruddy fables precede the noonday thoughts of men, as Aurora the sun's rays. The matutine intellect of the poet, keeping in advance of the glare of philosophy, always dwells in this auroral atmosphere.
Thoreau
It is not enough to be industrious; so are the ants. What are you industrious about?
Thoreau Henry David
A poem is one undivided unimpeded expression fallen ripe into literature, and it is undividedly and unimpededly received by those for whom it was matured.
Henry David Thoreau
No man with a genius for legislation has appeared in America. They are rare in the history of the world. There are orators, politicians, and eloquent men, by the thousand; but the speaker has not yet opened his mouth to speak who is capable of settling the much-vexed questions of the day.




Henry David Thoreau quotes
He is a singular character a young man with much of wild original nature still remaining in him; and so far as he is sophisticated, it is in a way and method of his own. He is as ugly as sin, long-nosed, queer-mouthed, and with uncouth and rustic, though courteous manners, corresponding very well with such an exterior. But his ugliness is of an honest and agreeable fashion, and becomes him much better than beauty. He was educated, I believe, at Cambridge, and formerly kept school in this town; but for two or three years back, he has repudiated all regular modes of getting a living, and seems inclined to lead a sort of Indian life among civilized men an Indian life, I mean, as respects the absence of any systematic effort for a livelihood. ... Mr. Thoreau is a keen and delicate observer of nature a genuine observer which, I suspect, is almost as rare a character as even an original poet; and Nature, in return for his love, seems to adopt him as her especial child, and shows him secrets which few others are allowed to witness.
Henry David Thoreau
And the cost of a thing it will be remembered as the amount of life it requires to be exchanged for it.
Thoreau quotes
Men and boys are learning all kinds of trades but how to make men of themselves. They learn to make houses; but they are not so well housed, they are not so contented in their houses, as the woodchucks in their holes. What is the use of a house if you haven't got a tolerable planet to put it on? If you cannot tolerate the planet that it is on? Grade the ground first. If a man believes and expects great things of himself, it makes no odds where you put him, or what you show him ... he will be surrounded by grandeur. He is in the condition of a healthy and hungry man, who says to himself, How sweet this crust is!
Thoreau Henry David
I do not wish to kill nor to be killed, but I can foresee circumstances in which both these things would be by me unavoidable. We preserve the so-called peace of our community by deeds of petty violence every day. Look at the policeman's billy and handcuffs! Look at the jail! Look at the gallows! Look at the chaplain of the regiment! We are hoping only to live safely on the outskirts of this provisional army. So we defend ourselves and our hen-roosts, and maintain slavery. I know that the mass of my countrymen think that the only righteous use that can be made of Sharp's rifles and revolvers is to fight duels with them, when we are insulted by other nations, or to hunt Indians, or shoot fugitive slaves with them, or the like. I think that for once the Sharp's rifles and the revolvers were employed in a righteous cause. The tools were in the hands of one who could use them.
Thoreau Henry David quotes
The wisest man preaches no doctrines; he has no scheme; he sees no rafter, not even a cobweb, against the heavens. It is clear sky. If I ever see more clearly at one time than at another, the medium through which I see is clearer.
Henry David Thoreau
The New Testament is an invaluable book, though I confess to having been slightly prejudiced against it in my very early days by the church and the Sabbath school, so that it seemed, before I read it, to be the yellowest book in the catalogue. Yet I early escaped from their meshes. It was hard to get the commentaries out of one's head and taste its true flavor. I think that Pilgrim's Progress is the best sermon which has been preached from this text; almost all other sermons that I have heard, or heard of, have been but poor imitations of this. It would be a poor story to be prejudiced against the Life of Christ because the book has been edited by Christians.
Henry David Thoreau quotes
If you can speak what you will never hear, if you can write what you will never read, you have done rare things.
Henry David Thoreau
You ask particularly after my health. I suppose that I have not many months to live; but, of course, I know nothing about it. I may add that I am enjoying existence as much as ever, and regret nothing.
Thoreau Henry David
If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours ... In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness.


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