Quotes by Henry David Thoreau

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Henry David Thoreau (July 12, 1817 - 1862) was an American essayist, poet, and naturalist. Among his lasting contributions were his writings on natural history and philosophy, where he anticipated the methods and findings of ecology and environmental history, two sources of modern day environmentalism. more

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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 and far away. It is not important that he should mature as soon as an apple tree or an oak.

Aim above morality. Be not simply good, be good for something.
There is no remedy for love than to love more.
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.
Our truest life is when we are in our dreams awake.
You must not blame me if I do talk to the clouds.
The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.
The heart is forever inexperienced.
If one advances confidently in the directions of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.
Love must be as much a light, as it is a flame.
The smallest seed of faith is better than the largest fruit of happiness.
Faith keeps many doubts in her pay. If I could not doubt, I should not believe.
You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment.
Be true to your work, your word, and your friend.
The language of friendship is not words but meanings.
True friendship can afford true knowledge. It does not depend on darkness and ignorance.
Distrust any enterprise that requires new clothes.
If I knew for a certainty that a man was coming to my house with the conscious design of doing me good, I should run for my life.
The most I can do for my friend is simply be his friend.
I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life... I wanted to live so sturdily and so Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life... to drive life into a corner to know it by experience and be able to give an account of it in my next excursion.
There are thousands hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.
I should not talk so much about myself if there were anybody else whom I knew as well.
I put a piece of paper under my pillow, and when I could not sleep I wrote in the dark.
Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.
However mean your life is, meet it 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 the richest.
Do what you love. Know you own bone; gnaw at it, bury it, unearth it, and gnaw it still.
I find it wholesome to be alone the greater part of time. To be in company, even with the best, is soon wearisome and dissipating. I love to be alone, I never found the companionable as solitude.
It is usually the imagination that is wounded first, rather than the heart; it being much more sensitive.
The law will never make men free, it is men that have to make the law free.
Men are born to succeed, not to fail.
The eye is the jewel of the body.
The light which puts out our eyes is darkness to us. Only that day dawns to which we are awake. There is more day to dawn. The sun is but a morning star.
How could youths better learn to live than by at once trying the experiment of living?
I have lived some thirty-odd years on this planet, and I have yet to hear the first syllable of valuable or even earnest advice from my seniors.
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.
Many men go fishing their entire lives without knowing it is not fish they are after.
After the first blush of sin comes its indifference.
I have never found a companion so companionable as solitude.
To know that we know what we know, and that we do not know what we do not know, that is true knowledge.
What does education often do? It makes a straight-cut ditch of a free, meandering brook.
If a man constantly aspires is he not elevated?
Live your life, do your work, then take your hat.
It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?
Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all.
I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by conscious endeavor.
Between whom there is hearty truth, there is love.
As if you could kill time without injuring eternity.
The boy gathers materials for a temple, and then when he is thirty, concludes to build a woodshed.
That man is richest whose pleasures are the cheapest.
We must walk consciously only part way toward our goal, and then leap in the dark to our success.
Write while the heat is in you. The writer who postpones the recording of his thoughts uses an iron which has cooled to burn a hole with. He cannot inflame the minds of his audience.
We perceive and are affected by changes too subtle to be described.
The man who goes alone can start today; but he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready, and it may be a long time before they get off.
I had three chairs in my house; one for solitude, two for friendship, three for society.
We should come home from adventures, and perils, and discoveries every day with new experience and character.
Goodness is the only investment which never fails.
One of the most attractive things about the flowers is their beautiful reserve.
Experience is in the fingers and head. The heart is inexperienced.
In eternity there is indeed something true and sublime. But all these times and places and occasions are now and here. God himself culminates in the present moment and will never be more divine in the lapse of the ages. Time is but a stream I go a-fishing in. I drink at it, but when I drink I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is. Its thin current slides away but eternity remains.