Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)

“I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that 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.”

“Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.”

“How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.”

“One must maintain a little bittle of summer, even in the middle of winter.”

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”

“What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lives within us.”

“Books are the treasured wealth of the world and the fit inheritance of generations and nations.”

“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 he hears, however measured or far away.”

“Do not be too moral. You may cheat yourself out of much life so. Aim above morality. Be not simply good, be good for something.”

“Never look back unless you are planning to go that way.”

“Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.”

“…be yourself – not your idea of what you think somebody else’s idea of yourself should be.”

“Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify.”

“If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.”

“Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all.”

“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this.”

“The greatest compliment that was ever paid me was when one asked me what I thought, and attended to my answer.”

“Nothing makes the earth seem so spacious as to have friends at a distance; they make the latitudes and longitudes.”

“There is no remedy for love, but to love more.”

“Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake.”

“Not till we are completely lost or turned around… do we begin to find ourselves.”

“All good things are wild and free.”

“I would rather sit on a pumpkin, and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion.”

“A bore is someone who takes away my solitude and doesn’t give me companionship in return.”

“I am a happy camper so I guess I’m doing something right. Happiness is like a butterfly; the more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder.”

“I have never found a companion that was so companionable as solitude.”

“Be true to your work, your word, and your friend.”

“Men profess to be lovers of music, but for the most part they give no evidence in their opinions and lives that they have heard it.”

“Things do not change; we change.”

“Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.”

“We must walk consciously only part way toward our goal and then leap in the dark to our success.”

“If we will be quiet and ready enough, we shall find compensation in every disappointment.”

“I was not designed to be forced. I will breathe after my own fashion. Let us see who is the strongest.”
“However mean your life is, meet it and live it.”

“As if you could kill time without injuring eternity”

“We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aids, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn, which does not forsake us even in our soundest sleep. I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by a conscious endeavour. It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make a few objects beautiful; but it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look, which morally we can do. To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts.”

“The language of friendship is not words but meanings.”

“Dreams are the touchstones of our characters.”

“As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.”

“One is not born into the world to do everything but to do something.”

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined.”

“Any fool can make a rule, and any fool will mind it.”

“Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant?”

“Only that day dawns to which we are awake. There is more day to dawn. The sun is but a morning star.”

“This world is but a canvas for our imagination.”

“Books are the carriers of civilization. Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill. I think that there is nothing, not even crime, more opposed to poetry, to philosophy, ay, to life itself than this incessant business.”

“The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.”

“As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness.”

“A man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone.”

“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.”

“Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.”

“Say what you have to say, not what you ought. Any truth is better than make-believe.”

“When I hear music, I fear no danger. I am invulnerable. I see no foe. I am related to the earliest times, and to the latest.”

“I say, beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes.”

“It is not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?”

“Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.”

“I do believe in simplicity. It is astonishing as well as sad, how many trivial affairs even the wisest thinks he must attend to in a day; how singular an affair he thinks he must omit. When the mathematician would solve a difficult problem, he first frees the equation of all incumbrances, and reduces it to its simplest terms. So simplify the problem of life, distinguish the necessary and the real. Probe the earth to see where your main roots run. ”

“A truly good book teaches me better than to read it. I must soon lay it down, and commence living on its hint. What I began by reading, I must finish by acting.”

“It’s not worth our while to let our imperfections disturb us always.”

“I can alter my life by altering my attitude. He who would have nothing to do with thorns must never attempt to gather flowers.”

“How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book.”

“Every generation laughs at the old fashions, but follows religiously the new.”

“Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.”

“However mean your life is, meet and live it; do not shun it and call it hard names. It is not so bad as you are. It looks poorest when you are richest. 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 poorhouse. The setting sun is reflected from the windows of the almshouse as brightly as from the rich man’s abode; the snow melts before its doors as early in the spring. Cultivate property like a garden herb, like sage. Do not trouble yourself much to get new things, whether clothes or friends. Turn the old; return to them. Things do not change; we change. Sell your clothes and keep your thoughts… Superfluous wealth can buy superfluities only. Money is not required to buy one necessary of the soul.”

“The most I can do for my friend is simply to be his friend.”

“Pursue some path, however narrow and crooked, in which you can walk with love and reverence.”

“My greatest skill in life has been to want but little”

“There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.”

“An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.”

“I have no doubt that it is part of the destiny of the human race in it’s gradual improvement, to leave off eating animals.”

“Men have become the tools of their tools.”

“Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.”

“The universe is wider than our views of it.”

“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.”

“Men are born to succeed, not to fail.”

“It is never too late to give up your prejudices”

“The path of least resistance leads to crooked rivers and crooked men.”

“If you would convince a man that he does wrong, do right. But do not care to convince him. Men will believe what they see. Let them see.”

“I have an immense appetite for solitude, like an infant for sleep, and if I don’t get enough for this year, I shall cry all the next. ”

“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.”

“To be a philosopher is not merely to have subtle thoughts, nor even to found a school, but so to love wisdom as to live according to its dictates, a life of simplicity, independence, magnanimity and trust.”

“We are born as innocents. We are polluted by advice.”

“Friends… they cherish one another’s hopes. They are kind to one another’s dreams.”

“Renew thyself completely each day.”

“Do not hire a man who does your work for money, but him who does it for love of it.”

“You cannot dream yourself into a character: you must hammer and forge yourself into one.”

“What’s the use of a fine house if you haven’t got a tolerable planet to put it on?”

“To be awake is to be completely alive. I have never yet met a man who was quite awake.”

“Take long walks in stormy weather or through deep snows in the fields and woods, if you would keep your spirits up. Deal with brute nature. Be cold and hungry and weary.”

“I had three chairs in my house; one for solitude, two for friendship, three for society.”

“In wildness is the preservation of the world.”

“Simplify, simplify.”

“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.”

“We are constantly invited to be who we are.”

“Let go of the past and go for the future. Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you imagined.”

“I heartily accept the motto, “That government is best which governs least”; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I believe — “That government is best which governs not at all”; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have. Government is at best but an expedient; but most governments are usually, and all governments are sometimes, inexpedient.”

“I have a room all to myself; it is nature.”
“The heart is forever inexperienced.”

“There is danger that we lose sight of what our friend is absolutely, while considering what she is to us alone.”

“What sort of philosophers are we, who know absolutely nothing of the origin and destiny of cats?”

“In the long run, men hit only what they aim at. Therefore, they had better aim at something high.”

“I should not talk so much about myself if there were anybody else whom I knew as well.”

“It is better to have your head in the clouds, and know where you are… than to breathe the clearer atmosphere below them, and think that you are in paradise.”

“Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand; instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumb nail.”

“In human intercourse the tragedy begins, not when there is misunderstanding about words, but when silence is not understood”

“Thank God men cannot fly, and lay waste the sky as well as the earth.”

“When we are unhurried and wise, we perceive that only great and worthy things have any permanent and absolute existence, that petty fears and petty pleasures are but the shadow of the reality.”

“That man is the richest whose pleasures are the cheapest. ”

“Books must be read as deliberately and reservedly as they were written.”

“Books can only reveal us to ourselves, and as often as they do us this service we lay them aside.”

“Be resolutely and faithfully what you are; be humbly what you aspire to be.”

“Do not lose hold of your dreams or aspirations. For if you do, you may still exist but you have ceased to live.”

“Kindness to children, love for children, goodness to children– these are the only investments that never fail.”

“Why should we be in such desperate haste to succeed and in such desperate enterprises? 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.”

“Life isn’t about finding yourself; it’s about creating yourself. So live the life you imagined.”

“A sad soul can kill you quicker, much quicker, than any germ”

“The only remedy for love is to love more.”

“The squirrel that you kill in jest, dies in earnest.”

“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment.”

“Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes.”

“A single gentle rain makes the grass many shades greener. So our prospects brighten on the influx of better thoughts. We should be blessed if we lived in the present always, and took advantage of every accident that befell us.”

“The greatest art is to shape the quality of the day. ”

“I believe in the forest, and in the meadow, and in the night in which the corn grows.”

“Enthusiasm is a supernatural serenity.”

“Books are the treasured wealth of the world and the fit inheritance of generations and nations. Books, the oldest and the best, stand naturally and rightfully on the shelves of every cottage. They have no cause of their own to plead, but while they enlighten and sustain the reader his common sense will not refuse them. Their authors are a natural and irresistible aristocracy in every society, and, more than kings or emperors, exert an influence on mankind.”

“But it is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things.”

“Love must be as much a light as it is a flame.”

“Thought is the sculptor who can create the person you want to be.”

“Goodness is the only investment that never fails.”

“A man may be very industrious, and yet not spend his time well. There is no more fatal blunderer than he who consumes the greater part of life getting his living.”

“A man can suffocate on courtesy.”

“To a philosopher all news is gossip, and they who edit and read it are old women over their tea.”

“It is not enough to be busy… The question is: what are we busy about?”

“The whole course of human history may depend on a change of heart in a single, solitary, even humble individual. For it is within the soul of the individual that the battle between good and evil is waged and ultimately won or lost.”

“Life in us is like the water in a river.”

“The true harvest of my life is intangible – a little star dust caught, a portion of the rainbow I have clutched.”

“Live your beliefs and you can turn the world around.”

“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.”

“Any man more right than his neighbors constitutes a majority of one already.”

“To read well, that is, to read true books in a true spirit, is a noble exercise, and one that will tax the reader more than any exercise which the customs of the day esteem. It requires a training such as the athletes underwent, the steady intention almost of the whole life to this object. Books must be read as deliberately and reservedly as they were written.”

“This curious world we inhabit is more wonderful than convenient; more beautiful than it is useful; it is more to be admired and enjoyed than used.”

“Even voting for the right is doing nothing for it. It is only expressing to men feebly your desire that it should prevail. A wise man will not leave the right to the mercy of chance, nor wish it to prevail through the power of the majority. There is but little virtue in the action of masses of men.”

“There is an incessant influx of novelty into the world, and yet we tolerate incredible dullness.”

“We should impart our courage and not our despair.”

“A friend is one who incessantly pays us the compliment of expecting from us all the virtues, and who can appreciate them in us.”

“ The question is not what you look at, but what you see. ”

“It is remarkable how long men will believe in the bottomlessness of a pond without taking the trouble to sound it.”

“If a man walks in the woods for love of them half of each day, he is in danger of being regarded as a loafer; but if he spends his whole day as a spectulator, shearing off those woods and making the earth bald before her time, he is esteemed an industrious and enterprising citizen.”

“He enjoys true leisure who has time to improve his soul’s estate.”

“Most of the luxuries, and many of the so-called comforts of life, are not only not indispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind.”

“God is alone,-but the devil, he is far from being alone; he sees a great deal of company; he is legion.”

“Begin where you are and such as you are, without aiming mainly to become of more worth, and with kindness aforethought, go about doing good.”

“If we respected only what is inevitable and has a right to be, music and poetry would resound along the streets.”

“Humility like darkness reveals the heavenly lights.”

“The only sin in the world is ignorance.”

“The civilized man is a more experienced and wiser savage.”

“Any fool can make a rule, and every fool will mind it.”

“I have always been regretting that I was not as wise as the day I was born.”

“Why should we live with such hurry and waste of life?”

“Age is no better, hardly so well, qualified for an instructor as youth, for it has not profited so much as it has lost.”

“Truth strikes us from behind and in the dark, as well as from before and in broad daylight.”

“The most I can do for my friend is simply to be his friend. I have no wealth to bestow on him. If he knows that I am happy in loving him, he will want no other reward. Is not friendship divine in this?”

“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of feeble minds”

“Readers are plentiful; thinkers are rare”

“Books are the carriers of civilization. Without books, history is silent.”

“Every man is the builder of a temple called his body.”

“Be it life or death, we crave only reality.”

“It takes two to speak the truth – one to speak and another to hear.”

“To be right is more honorable than to be law abiding.”

“The tragedy in a man’s life is what dies inside of him while he lives.”

“The perception of beauty is a moral test.”

“Things do not change, we do”

“Don’t be afraid that your life will end, be afraid that it will never begin!”

“I believe that water is the only drink for a wise man.”

“Books are the carriers of civilization. Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill. They are engines of change, windows on the world, lighthouses erected in the sea of time.”

“There is no beginning too small.”

“Instead of noblemen, let us have noble villages of men.”

“The thoughtful man becomes a hermit in the thoroughfares of the marketplace.”

“God himself culminates in the present moment, and will never be more divine in the lapse of all the ages.”

“Live the life you’ve dreamed.”

“It is never too late to give up our prejudices.”

“Unjust laws exist: shall we be content to obey them, or shall we endeavor to amend them, and obey them until we have succeeded, or shall we transgress them at once?”

“Many men walk by day; few walk by night. It is a different season.”

“To be awake is to be alive.”

“As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.”

“The greatest gains and values are farthest from being appreciated.”

“There are nowadays professors of philosophy, but not philosophers.”

“Still we live meanly like ants.”

“This life is not for complaint, but for satisfaction.”

“The forcible writer stands bodily behind his words with his experiences. He does not make books out of books, but he has been there in person.”

“Writing your name can lead to writing sentences. And the next thing you’ll be doing is writing paragraphs, and then books. And then you’ll be in as much trouble as I am!”

“Follow your genius closely enough, and it will not fail to fresh prospect every hour.”

“Books are the treasured wealth of the world and the fit inheritance of generations and nations . . . Their authors are a natural and irresistible aristocracy in every society, and, more than kings or emperors, exert an influence on mankind.”

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