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 ... more

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All good things are cheap: all bad are very dear.

A perfectly healthy sentence, it is true, is extremely rare. For the most part we miss the hue and fragrance of the thought; as if we could be satisfied with the dews of the morning or evening without their colors, or the heavens without their azure.
Youth gets together with their materials to build a bridge to the moon or maybe a palace on earth; then in middle age they decide to build a woodshed with them instead.
If a man is alive, there is always danger that he may die, though the danger must be allowed to be less in proportion as he is dead-and-alive to begin with. A man sits as many risks as he runs.
Every man will be a poet if he can; otherwise a philosopher or man of science. This proves the superiority of the poet.
Our inventions are wont to be pretty toys, which distract our attention from serious things. They are but improved means to an unimproved end, We are in great haste to construct a magnetic telegraph from Maine to Texas; but Maine and Texas, it may be, have nothing important to communicate.
I lose my respect for the man who can make the mystery of sex the subject of a coarse jest, yet when you speak earnestly and seriously on the subject, is silent.
Drive a nail home and clinch it so faithfully that you can wake up in the night and think of your work with satisfaction,a work at which you would not be ashamed to invoke the Muse.
There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root, and it may be that he who bestows the largest amount of time and money on the needy is doing the most by his mode of life to produce that misery which he strives in vain to relieve.
Nothing is so much to be feared as fear.
Eastward I go only by force; but westward I go free.
I must walk toward Oregon, and not toward Europe. And that way the nation is moving, and I may say that mankind progress from east to west. We go eastward to realize history and study the works of art and literature, retracing the steps of the race; we go westward as into the future, with a spirit of enterprise and adventure.
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 I also 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.
Every blade in the field - Every leaf in the forest - lays down its life in its season as beautifully as it was taken up.
Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity!
I believe that men are generally still a little afraid of the dark, though the witches are all hung, and Christianity and candles have been introduced.
The Indian … stands free and unconstrained in Nature, is her inhabitant and not her guest, and wears her easily and gracefully. But the civilized man has the habits of the house. His house is a prison.
What is the use of a house if you haven’t got a tolerable planet to put it on?
We've wholly forgotten how to die. But be sure you do die nevertheless. Do your work, and finish it. If you know how to begin, you will know when to end