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Henry David Thoreau – 141 Quotes

A great collection of 141 quotes by Henry David Thoreau

 

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.

– Henry David Thoreau


If it is surely the means to the highest end we know, can any work be humble or disgusting? Will it not rather be elevating as a ladder, the means by which we are translated?

– Henry David Thoreau


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

– Henry David Thoreau


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

– Henry David Thoreau


It is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things.

– Henry David Thoreau


All this worldly wisdom was once the unamiable heresy of some wise man.

– Henry David Thoreau


The rarest quality in an epitaph is truth.

– Henry David Thoreau


It takes two to speak the truth: one to speak, and another to hear.

– Henry David Thoreau


The lawyer’s truth is not Truth, but consistency or a consistent expediency.

– Henry David Thoreau


Truth is always in harmony with herself, and is not concerned chiefly to reveal the justice that may consist with wrong-doing.

– Henry David Thoreau


I am sorry to think that you do not get a man’s most effective criticism until you provoke him. Severe truth is expressed with some bitterness.

– Henry David Thoreau


Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in.

– Henry David Thoreau


As if you could kill time without injuring eternity.

– Henry David Thoreau


The finest workers in stone are not copper or steel tools, but the gentle touches of air and water working at their leisure with a liberal allowance of time.

– Henry David Thoreau


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

– Henry David Thoreau


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

– Henry David Thoreau


What is the use of a house if you haven’t got a tolerable planet to put it on?

– Henry David Thoreau


As in geology, so in social institutions, we may discover the causes of all past changes in the present invariable order of society.

– Henry David Thoreau

Make the most of your regrets never smother your sorrow, but tend and cherish it till it comes to have a separate and integral interest. To regret deeply is to live afresh.

– Henry David Thoreau


It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right.

– Henry David Thoreau


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

– Henry David Thoreau


The bluebird carries the sky on his back.

– Henry David Thoreau


It appears to be a law that you cannot have a deep sympathy with both man and nature.

– Henry David Thoreau


Nature is full of genius, full of the divinity so that not a snowflake escapes its fashioning hand.

– Henry David Thoreau


Nature puts no question and answers none which we mortals ask. She has long ago taken her resolution.

– Henry David Thoreau


There are moments when all anxiety and stated toil are becalmed in the infinite leisure and repose of nature.

– Henry David Thoreau


To be admitted to Nature’s hearth costs nothing. None is excluded, but excludes himself. You have only to push aside the curtain.

– Henry David Thoreau


Nature will bear the closest inspection. She invites us to lay our eye level with her smallest leaf, and take an insect view of its plain.

– Henry David Thoreau


There are certain pursuits which, if not wholly poetic and true, do at least suggest a nobler and finer relation to nature than we know. The keeping of bees, for instance.

– Henry David Thoreau


The Artist is he who detects and applies the law from observation of the works of Genius, whether of man or Nature. The Artisan is he who merely applies the rules which others have detected.

– Henry David Thoreau


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.

– Henry David Thoreau


What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.

– Henry David Thoreau


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

– Henry David Thoreau


In my afternoon walk I would fain forget all my morning occupations and my obligations to society.

– Henry David Thoreau


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.

– Henry David Thoreau


Money is not required to buy one necessity of the soul.

– Henry David Thoreau


To have done anything just for money is to have been truly idle.

– Henry David Thoreau


Men are born to succeed, not to fail.

– Henry David Thoreau


Men have become the tools of their tools.

– Henry David Thoreau


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

– Henry David Thoreau


The law will never make a man free it is men who have got to make the law free.

– Henry David Thoreau


If you would convince a man that he does wrong, do right. Men will believe what they see.

– Henry David Thoreau


Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.

– Henry David Thoreau


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

– Henry David Thoreau


The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation.

– Henry David Thoreau


It is an interesting question how far men would retain their relative rank if they were divested of their clothes.

– Henry David Thoreau


While civilization has been improving our houses, it has not equally improved the men who are to inhabit them. It has created palaces, but it was not so easy to create noblemen and kings.

– Henry David Thoreau


There is no remedy for love but to love more.

– Henry David Thoreau

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

– Henry David Thoreau


May we so love as never to have occasion to repent of our love!

– Henry David Thoreau


Those whom we can love, we can hate to others we are indifferent.

– Henry David Thoreau


Ignorance and bungling with love are better than wisdom and skill without.

– Henry David Thoreau


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

– Henry David Thoreau


Do what you love. Know your own bone gnaw at it, bury it, unearth it, and gnaw it still.

– Henry David Thoreau


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

– Henry David Thoreau


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 days as a speculator, shearing off those woods and making the earth bald before her time, he is deemed an industrious and enterprising citizen.

– Henry David Thoreau


Live the life you’ve dreamed.

– Henry David Thoreau


Live your life, do your work, then take your hat.

– Henry David Thoreau


Our life is frittered away by detail… simplify, simplify.

– Henry David Thoreau


To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts.

– Henry David Thoreau


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

– Henry David Thoreau


There is always a present and extant life, be it better or worse, which all combine to uphold.

– Henry David Thoreau


There is no more fatal blunderer than he who consumes the greater part of his life getting his living.

– Henry David Thoreau


I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by conscious endeavor.

– Henry David Thoreau


Nature and human life are as various as our several constitutions. Who shall say what prospect life offers to another?

– Henry David Thoreau


The cost of a thing is the amount of what I will call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.

– Henry David Thoreau


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.

– Henry David Thoreau


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.

– Henry David Thoreau


Every creature is better alive than dead, men and moose and pine trees, and he who understands it aright will rather preserve its life than destroy it.

– Henry David Thoreau


A broad margin of leisure is as beautiful in a man’s life as in a book. Haste makes waste, no less in life than in housekeeping. Keep the time, observe the hours of the universe, not of the cars.

– Henry David Thoreau


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.

– Henry David Thoreau


There are old heads in the world who cannot help me by their example or advice to live worthily and satisfactorily to myself but I believe that it is in my power to elevate myself this very hour above the common level of my life.

– Henry David Thoreau


It is only when we forget all our learning that we begin to know.

– Henry David Thoreau


Men have a respect for scholarship and learning greatly out of proportion to the use they commonly serve.

– Henry David Thoreau


Shall I not have intelligence with the earth? Am I not partly leaves and vegetable mould myself.

– Henry David Thoreau


It is usually the imagination that is wounded first, rather than the heart it being much more sensitive.

– Henry David Thoreau


Generally speaking, a howling wilderness does not howl: it is the imagination of the traveler that does the howling.

– Henry David Thoreau


It is remarkable how closely the history of the apple tree is connected with that of man.

– Henry David Thoreau


‘Tis healthy to be sick sometimes.

– Henry David Thoreau


What is called genius is the abundance of life and health.

– Henry David Thoreau


There is no value in life except what you choose to place upon it and no happiness in any place except what you bring to it yourself.

– Henry David Thoreau


Being is the great explainer.

– Henry David Thoreau


We know but a few men, a great many coats and breeches.

– Henry David Thoreau


I have a great deal of company in the house, especially in the morning when nobody calls.

– Henry David Thoreau


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

– Henry David Thoreau


Great men, unknown to their generation, have their fame among the great who have preceded them, and all true worldly fame subsides from their high estimate beyond the stars.

– Henry David Thoreau


Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison.

– Henry David Thoreau


How does it become a man to behave towards the American government today? I answer, that he cannot without disgrace be associated with it.

– Henry David Thoreau


If the machine of government is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law.

– Henry David Thoreau


Be not simply good – be good for something.

– Henry David Thoreau


Aim above morality. Be not simply good, be good for something.

– Henry David Thoreau


Not only must we be good, but we must also be good for something.

– Henry David Thoreau


There is more of good nature than of good sense at the bottom of most marriages.

– Henry David Thoreau


I have seen how the foundations of the world are laid, and I have not the least doubt that it will stand a good while.

– Henry David Thoreau


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.

– Henry David Thoreau


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.

– Henry David Thoreau


As for doing good that is one of the professions which is full. Moreover I have tried it fairly and, strange as it may seem, am satisfied that it does not agree with my constitution.

– Henry David Thoreau


God reigns when we take a liberal view, when a liberal view is presented to us.

– Henry David Thoreau


What is human warfare but just this an effort to make the laws of God and nature take sides with one party.

– Henry David Thoreau


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

– Henry David Thoreau


The language of friendship is not words but meanings.

– Henry David Thoreau


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

– Henry David Thoreau


A man cannot be said to succeed in this life who does not satisfy one friend.

– Henry David Thoreau


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

– Henry David Thoreau


True friendship can afford true knowledge. It does not depend on darkness and ignorance.

– Henry David Thoreau


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.

– Henry David Thoreau


All men are children, and of one family. The same tale sends them all to bed, and wakes them in the morning.

– Henry David Thoreau


Faith never makes a confession.

– Henry David Thoreau


The smallest seed of faith is better than the largest fruit of happiness.

– Henry David Thoreau


Faith keeps many doubts in her pay. If I could not doubt, I should not believe.

– Henry David Thoreau


Wealth is the ability to fully experience life.

– Henry David Thoreau


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

– Henry David Thoreau


Dreams are the touchstones of our character.

– Henry David Thoreau


Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake.

– Henry David Thoreau


Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

– Henry David Thoreau


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

– Henry David Thoreau


If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with success unexpected in common hours.

– Henry David Thoreau


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.

– Henry David Thoreau


I have learned, that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.

– Henry David Thoreau


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.

– Henry David Thoreau


I have thought there was some advantage even in death, by which we mingle with the herd of common men.

– Henry David Thoreau


Things do not change we change.

– Henry David Thoreau


Only he is successful in his business who makes that pursuit which affords him the highest pleasure sustain him.

– Henry David Thoreau


I think that there is nothing, not even crime, more opposed to poetry, to philosophy, ay, to life itself than this incessant business.

– Henry David Thoreau


It is best to avoid the beginnings of evil.

– Henry David Thoreau


That government is best which governs least.

– Henry David Thoreau


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

– Henry David Thoreau


The language of excitement is at best picturesque merely. You must be calm before you can utter oracles.

– Henry David Thoreau


Nothing goes by luck in composition. It allows of no tricks. The best you can write will be the best you are.

– Henry David Thoreau


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. I do not wish to go below now.

– Henry David Thoreau


The perception of beauty is a moral test.

– Henry David Thoreau


Alas! how little does the memory of these human inhabitants enhance the beauty of the landscape!

– Henry David Thoreau


This world is but a canvas to our imagination.

– Henry David Thoreau


They can do without architecture who have no olives nor wines in the cellar.

– Henry David Thoreau


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

– Henry David Thoreau


I love to be alone. I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude.

– Henry David Thoreau


No face which we can give to a matter will stead us so well at last as the truth. This alone wears well.

– Henry David Thoreau


The man who goes alone can start today but he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready.

– Henry David Thoreau


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

– Henry David Thoreau


I have never found a companion that was so companionable as solitude. We are for the most part more lonely when we go abroad among men than when we stay in our chambers. A man thinking or working is always alone, let him be where he will.

– Henry David Thoreau


None are so old as those who have outlived enthusiasm.

– Henry David Thoreau