Henry David Thoreau Quotes & Wallpapers

Henry David Thoreau
Total Quotes: 3049

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

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

It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see. Henry David Thoreau

All misfortune is but a stepping stone to fortune. Henry David Thoreau

If I choose to devote myself to certain labors which yield more real profit, though but little money, they may be inclined to look on me as an idler. Henry David Thoreau

Government never furthered any enterprise but by the alacrity with which it got out of its way. Henry David Thoreau

How often we find ourselves turning our backs on our actual friends, that we might go and meet their ideal cousins. Henry David Thoreau

Sobriety, severity, and self-respect are the foundations of all true sociality. Henry David Thoreau

No way of thinking or doing, however ancient, can be trusted without proof. What everybody echoes or in silence passes by as true to-day may turn out to be falsehood to-morrow. Henry David Thoreau

Invariably our best nights were those when it rained. Henry David Thoreau

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

Give me the poverty that enjoys true wealth. Henry David Thoreau

The lakes are something which you are unprepared for; they lie up so high, exposed to the light, and the forest is diminished to a fine fringe on their edges, with here and there a blue mountain, like amethyst jewels set around some jewel of the first water, - so anterior, so superior, to all the changes that are to take place on their shores, even now civil and refined, and fair as they can ever be. Henry David Thoreau

A truly good book is something as natural, and as unexpectedly and unaccountably fair and perfect, as a wild-flower discovered on the prairies of the West or in the jungles of the East. Henry David Thoreau

Our last deed, like the young of the land crab, wends its way to the sea of cause and effect as soon as born, and makes a drop there to eternity. Henry David Thoreau

We must take root; send out some little fibre at least, even every winter day. Henry David Thoreau

Do not seek so anxiously to be developed, to subject yourself to many influences to be played on; it is all dissipation. Humility like darkness reveals the heavenly lights. Henry David Thoreau

Sweep away the clutter of things that complicate our lives. Henry David Thoreau

Man cannot afford to be a naturalist, to look at Nature directly, but only with the side of his eye. He must look through and beyond her. Henry David Thoreau

Much of our poetry has the very best manners, but no character. Henry David Thoreau

Much verse fails of being poetry because it was not written exactly at the right crisis, though it may have been inconceivably near to it. It is only by a miracle that poetry is written at all. It is not recoverable thought, but a hue caught from a vaster receding thought. Henry David Thoreau

It is remarkable that almost all speakers and writers feel it to be incumbent on them, sooner or later, to prove or acknowledge the personality of God. Some Earl of Bridgewater, thinking it better late than never, has provided for it in his will. It is a sad mistake. Henry David Thoreau

Men nowhere, east or west, live yet a natural life, round which the vine clings, and which the elm willingly shadows. Man would desecrate it by his touch, and so the beauty of the world remains veiled to him. He needs not only to be spiritualized, but naturalized, on the soil of earth. Henry David Thoreau

It is so rare to meet with a man outdoors who cherishes a worthy thought in his mind, which is independent of the labor of his hands. Behind every man's busy-ness there should be a level of undisturbed serenity and industry, as within the reef encircling a coral isle there is always an expanse of still water, where the depositions are going on which will finally raise it above the surface. Henry David Thoreau

You fail in your thoughts, or you prevail in your thoughts only. Henry David Thoreau

As polishing expresses the vein in marble, and grain in wood, so music brings out what of heroic lurks anywhere. The hero is the sole patron of music. Henry David Thoreau

On every hand we observe a truly wise practice, in education, in morals, and in the arts of life, the embodied wisdom of many an ancient philosopher. Henry David Thoreau

I am too easily contented with a slight and almost animal happiness. My happiness is a good deal like that of the woodchucks. Henry David Thoreau

A healthy man, with steady employment, as wood-chopping at fifty cents a cord, and a camp in the woods, will not be a good subjectfor Christianity. The New Testament may be a choice book to him on some, but not on all or most of his days. He will rather go a-fishing in his leisure hours. The Apostles, though they were fishers too, were of the solemn race of sea-fishers, and never trolled for pickerel on inland streams. Henry David Thoreau

Books are for the most part willfully and hastily written, as parts of a system to supply a want real or imagined. Henry David Thoreau

See how he cowers and sneaks, how vaguely all the day he fears, not being immortal nor divine, but the slave and prisoner of his own opinion of himself, a fame won by his own deeds. 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. Henry David Thoreau

All sound heard at the greatest possible distance produces one and the same effect, a vibration of the universal lyre, just as the intervening atmosphere makes a distant ridge of earth interesting to our eyes by the azure tint it imparts to it. Henry David Thoreau

I am wont to think that men are not so much the keepers of herds as herds are the keepers of men. The former are so much the freer. Henry David Thoreau

There are other letters for the child to learn than those which Cadmus invented. The Spaniards have a good term to express this wild and dusky knolwedge, Grammatica parda, tawny grammar, a kind of mother-wit derived from that same leopard to which I have referred. Henry David Thoreau

There has always been the same amount of light in the world. The new and missing stars, the comets and eclipses, do not affect thegeneral illumination, for only our glasses appreciate them. Henry David Thoreau

There are sure to be two prescriptions diametrically opposite. Henry David Thoreau

Slow are the beginnings of philosophy. Henry David Thoreau

We can conceive of nothing more fair than something which we have experienced. Henry David Thoreau

Having reached the term of his natural life"; Mwould it not be truer to say, Having reached the term of his unnatural life? Henry David Thoreau

We can never safely exceed the actual facts in our narratives. Of pure invention, such as some suppose, there is no instance. To write a true work of fiction even is only to take leisure and liberty to describe some things more exactly as they are. Henry David Thoreau

We shall be reduced to gnaw the very crust of the earth for nutriment. Henry David Thoreau

The artist and his work are not to be separated. The most willfully foolish man cannot stand aloof from his folly, but the deed and the doer together make ever one sober fact. Henry David Thoreau

It is good even to be a fisherman in summer and in winter. Henry David Thoreau

That is a pathetic inquiry among travelers and geographers after the site of ancient Troy. It is not near where they think it is.When a thing is decayed and gone, how indistinct must be the place it occupied! Henry David Thoreau

I see less difference between a city and a swamp than formerly. Henry David Thoreau

The change from storm and winter to serene and mild weather, from dark and sluggish hours to bright and elastic ones, is a memorable crisis which all things proclaim. It is seemingly instantaneous at last. Henry David Thoreau

In the unbending of the arm to do the deed there is experience worth all the maxims in the world. Henry David Thoreau

Men should not labor foolishly like brutes, but the brain and the body should always, or as much as possible, work and rest together, and then the work will be of such a kind that when the body is hungry the brain will be hungry also, and the same food will suffice for both; otherwise the food which repairs the waste energy of the overwrought body will oppress the sedentary brain, and the degenerate scholar will come to esteem all food vulgar, and all getting a living drudgery. Henry David Thoreau

Generally speaking, the political news, whether domestic or foreign, might be written today for the next ten years with sufficientaccuracy. Most revolutions in society have not power to interest, still less alarm us; but tell me that our rivers are drying up, or the genus pine dying out in the country, and I might attend. Henry David Thoreau

Will mankind never learn that policy is not morality,-that it never secures any moral right, but considers merely what is expedient? chooses the available candidate,-who is invariably the devil,-and what right have his constituents to be surprised, because the devil does not behave like an angel of light? What is wanted is men, not of policy, but of probity,-who recognize a higher law than the Constitution, or the decision of the majority. Henry David Thoreau

Men cannot conceive of a state of things so fair that it cannot be realized. Henry David Thoreau

The murmurs of many a famous river on the other side of the globe reach even to us here, as to more distant dwellers on its banks;many a poet's stream, floating the helms and shields of heroes on its bosom. Henry David Thoreau

The young pines springing up in the corn-fields from year to year are to me a refreshing fact. Henry David Thoreau

By one bait or another, Nature allures inhabitants into all her recesses. Henry David Thoreau

Whether we live by the seaside, or by the lakes and rivers, or on the prarie, it concerns us to attend to the nature of fishes, since they are not phenomena confined to certain localities only, but forms and phases of the life in nature universally dispersed. The countless shoals which annually coast the shores of Europe and America are not so interesting to the student of nature as the more fertile law itselffrom which it results that they may be found in water in so many places, in greater or lesser numbers. Henry David Thoreau

The same soil is good for men and for trees. A man's health requires as many acres of meadow to his prospect as his farm does loads of muck. Henry David Thoreau

How can a man be satisfied to entertain an opinion merely, and enjoy it? Is there any enjoyment in it, if his opinion is that he is aggrieved? If you are cheated out of a single dollar by your neighbor, you do not rest satisfied with knowing that you are cheated, or with saying that you are cheated, or even with petitioning him to pay you your due; but you take effectual steps at once to obtain the full amount, and see that you are never cheated again. Henry David Thoreau

Our village life would stagnate if it were not for the unexplored forests and meadows which surround it. Henry David Thoreau

No: until I want the protection of Massachusetts to be extended to me in some distant Southern port, where my liberty is endangered, or until I am bent solely on building up an estate at home by peaceful enterprise, I can afford to refuse allegiance to Massachusetts, and her right to my property and life. It costs me less in every sense to incur the penalty of disobedience to the State than it would to obey. I should feel as if I were worth less in that case. Henry David Thoreau

Continued traveling is far from productive. It begins with wearing away the soles of the shoes, and making the feet sore, and erelong it will wear a man clean up, after making his heart sore into the bargain. I have observed that the afterlife of those who have traveled much is very pathetic. Henry David Thoreau

At the extreme north, the voyagers are obliged to dance and act plays for employment. Henry David Thoreau

Bankruptcy and repudiation are the springboards from which much of our civilization vaults and turns its somersets, but the savagestands on the unelastic plank of famine. Henry David Thoreau

It is pitiful when a man bears a name for convenience merely, who has earned neither name nor fame. Henry David Thoreau

There are some things which a man never speaks of, which are much finer kept silent about. To the highest communications we only lend a silent ear. Henry David Thoreau

Within the memory of many of my townsmen the road near which my house stands resounded with the laugh and gossip of inhabitants, and the woods which border it were notched and dotted here and there with their little gardens and dwellings, though it was then much more shut in by the forest than now. Henry David Thoreau

In a thousand apparently humble ways men busy themselves to make some right take the place of some wrong,-if it is only to make abetter paste blacking,-and they are themselves so much the better morally for it. Henry David Thoreau

Good deeds are no less good because their object is unworthy. Henry David Thoreau

Moral reform is the effort to throw off sleep. Henry David Thoreau

Nearest to all things is that power which fashions their being. Next to us the grandest laws are constantly being executed. Next to us is not the workman whom we have hired, with whom we love so well to talk, but the workman whose work we are. Henry David Thoreau

We believe that the possibility of the future far exceeds the accomplishment of the past. We review the past with the common sense, but we anticipate the future with transcendental senses. In our sanest moments we find ourselves naturally expecting or prepared for far greater changes than any which we have experienced within the period of distinct memory, only to be paralleled by experiences which are forgotten. Henry David Thoreau

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