Henry David Thoreau Quotes

Henry David Thoreau

Every man casts a shadow; not his body only, but his imperfectly mingled spirit. This is his grief. Let him turn which way he will, it falls opposite to the sun; short at noon, long at eve. Did you never see it?

Henry David Thoreau
(A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, 1849)

I am convinced, that if all men were to live as simply as I then did, thieving and robbery would be unknown.

Henry David Thoreau (Walden - Chapter VIII: The Village, 1854)

It is the greatest of all advantages to enjoy no advantage at all.

Henry David Thoreau (Journal Entry, 1856)

Solitude is not measured by the miles of space that intervene between a man and his fellows. The really diligent student in one of the crowded hives of Cambridge College is as solitary as a dervis in the desert.

Henry David Thoreau (Walden - Chapter V, 1854)

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.

Henry David Thoreau (Letter to Daniel Ricketson, 1857)

An efficient and valuable man does what he can, whether the community pay him for it or not.

Henry David Thoreau (Life Without Principles, 1863)

All men recognize the right of revolution; that is, the right to refuse allegiance to, and to resist, the government, when its tyranny or its inefficiency are great and unendurable.

Henry David Thoreau (Civil Disobedience, 1849)

There is but little virtue in the action of masses of men.

Henry David Thoreau (Civil Disobedience, 1849)

We, too, are out, obeying the same law with all nature. Not less important are the observers of the birds than the birds themselves.

Henry David Thoreau (Journal Entry, 1858)

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

Henry David Thoreau (Letter, 1848)

Not till we are lost, in other words not till we have lost the world, do we begin to find ourselves, and realize where we are and the infinite extent of our relations.

Henry David Thoreau (Walden - Chapter VIII: The Village, 1854)

Do not worry if you have built your castles in the air. They are where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.

Henry David Thoreau (Walden - Chapter XVIII: Conclusion, 1854)

By my intimacy with nature I find myself withdrawn from man. My interest in the sun and the moon, in the morning and the evening, compels me to solitude. 

Henry David Thoreau (Journal Entry, 1851)

In his(the sun) view the earth is all equally cultivated like a garden. Therefore we should receive the benefit of his light and heat with a corresponding trust and magnanimity.

Henry David Thoreau (Walden - Chapter VII: The Bean-Field, 1854)

But government in which the majority rule in all cases can not be based on justice, even as far as men understand it.

Henry David Thoreau (Civil Disobedience, 1849)

I hear many condemn these men because they were so few. When were the good and the brave ever in a majority?

Henry David Thoreau (A Plea for Captain John Brown, 1859)

To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts. Every man is tasked to make his life, even in its details, worthy of the contemplation of his most elevated and critical hour.

Henry David Thoreau (Walden - Chapter II: Where I Lived, and What I Lived For, 1854)

Is there not a sort of blood shed when the conscience is wounded? Through this wound a man's real manhood and immortality flow out, and he bleeds to an everlasting death. I see this blood flowing now.

Henry David Thoreau (Civil Disobedience, 1849)

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.

Henry David Thoreau (Letter to Harrison Blake, 1860)

Who looks in the sun will see no light else; but also he will see no shadow. Our life revolves unceasingly, but the centre is ever the same, and the wise will regard only the seasons of the soul.

Henry David Thoreau (Journal Entry, 1841)

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

Henry David Thoreau

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 (Walden - Chapter XVIII: Conclusion - Final Lines, 1854)

These same questions that disturb and puzzle and confound us have in their turn occurred to all the wise men; not one has been omitted; and each has answered them, according to his ability, by his words and his life.

Henry David Thoreau (Walden - Chapter III: Reading, 1854)

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.

Henry David Thoreau (Journal Entry, 1856)

I wish to suggest that 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 his life getting his living.

Henry David Thoreau (Life Without Principles, 1863)

I have no doubt that it is a part of the destiny of the human race, in its gradual improvement, to leave off eating animals, as surely as the savage tribes have left off eating each other when they came in contact with the more civilized.

Henry David Thoreau (Walden - Chapter XI: Higher Laws, 1854)

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 (A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, 1849)

Let us first be as simple and well as Nature ourselves, dispel the clouds which hang over our brows, and take up a little life into our pores. Do not stay to be an overseer of the poor, but endeavor to become one of the worthies of the world.

Henry David Thoreau (Walden - Chapter I: Economy, 1854)

I once had a sparrow alight upon my shoulder for a moment while I was hoeing in a village garden, and I felt that I was more distinguished by that circumstance than I should have been by any epaulet I could have worn. 

Henry David Thoreau (Walden - Chapter XV: Winter Animals, 1854)

As if our birth had at first sundered things, and we had been thrust up through into nature like a wedge, and not till the wound heals and the scar disappears, do we begin to discover where we are, and that nature is one and continuous everywhere.

Henry David Thoreau (A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, 1849)

Henry David Thoreau Biography

Born: July 12, 1817
Died: May 6, 1862

Henry David Thoreau was an American author, abolitionist, poet and philosopher. He is best known as the author of the book Walden. He has also been highly influential in political thought.

Notable Works

The Service (1840)
Paradise Regained (1843)
Reform and the Reformers (1846-1848)
Thomas Carlyle and His Works (1847)
Civil Disobedience (1849)
Walden (1854)
Walking (1861)