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Henry David Thoreau Quotes
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"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."
"A kitten is so flexible that she is almost double; the hind parts are equivalent to another kitten with which the forepart plays. She does not discover that her tail belongs to her until you tread on it."
"A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone."
"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."
"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."
"Aim above morality. Be not simply good, be good for something."
"All endeavor calls for the ability to tramp the last mile, shape the last plan, endure the last hours toil. The fight to the finish spirit is the one... characteristic we must posses if we are to face the future as finishers."
"All this worldly wisdom was once the unamiable heresy of some wise man."
"An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day."
"Any fool can make a rule, and any fool will mind it."
"As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives."
"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."
"As if we could kill time without injuring eternity!"
"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."
"Be not simply good - be good for something."
"Be true to your work, your word, and your friend."
"Being is the great explainer."
"Beware of all enterprises that require a new set of clothes."
"Books are the treasured wealth of the world and the fit inheritance of generations and nations."
"Distrust any enterprise that requires new clothes."
"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."
"Do not hire a man who does your work for money, but him who does it for love of it."
"Do not trouble yourself much to get new things, whether clothes or friends... Sell your clothes and keep your thoughts."
"Do not worry if you have built your castles in the air. They are where they should be. Now put the foundations under them."
"Dreams are the touchstones of our character."
"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."
"Every generation laughs at the old fashions, but follows religiously the new."
"Faith keeps many doubts in her pay. If I could not doubt, I should not believe."
"For what are the classics but the noblest thoughts of man? They are the only oracles which are not decayed, and there are such answers to the most modern inquiry in them as Delphi and Dodona never gave. We might as well omit to study Nature because she is old."
"Friends... they cherish one another's hopes. They are kind to one another's dreams."
"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined."
"Goodness is the only investment that never fails."
"Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads."
"How could youths better learn to live than by at once trying the experiment of living?"
"How does it become a man to behave towards the American government today? I answer, that he cannot without disgrace be associated with it."
"How earthy old people become - moldy as the grave! Their wisdom smacks of the earth. There is no foretaste of immortality in it. They remind me of earthworms and mole crickets."
"How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book! The book exists for us, perchance, that will explain our miracles and reveal new ones. The at present unutterable things we may find somewhere uttered."
"How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live."
"However mean your life is, meet it and live it: do not shun it and call it hard names. Cultivate poverty like a garden herb, like sage. Do not trouble yourself much to get new things, whether clothes or friends. Things do not change, we change. Sell your clothes and keep your thoughts."
"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."
"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."
"I frequently tramped eight or ten miles through the deepest snow to keep an appointment with a beech-tree, or a yellow birch, or an old acquaintance among the pines."
"I have a great deal of company in the house, especially in the morning when nobody calls."
"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."
"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."
"I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by conscious endeavor."
"I love to be alone. I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude."
"I never found a companion that was so companionable as solitude."
"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 that I should have been by any epaulet I could have worn."
"I put a piece of paper under my pillow, and when I could not sleep I wrote in the dark."
"I say beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes."
"I think that there is nothing, not even crime, more opposed to poetry, to philosophy, ay, to life itself than this incessant business."
"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 would rather sit on a pumpkin and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion."
"If a man constantly aspires is he not elevated?"
"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."
"If a man loses pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music in which he hears, however measured, or far away."
"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."
"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."
"If I seem to boast more than is becoming, my excuse is that I brag for humanity rather than for myself."
"If misery loves company, misery has company enough."
"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."
"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."
"If we will be quiet and ready enough, we shall find compensation in every disappointment."
"If you give money, spend yourself with it."
"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."
"If you would convince a man that he does wrong, do right. Men will believe what they see."
"In human intercourse the tragedy begins, not when there is misunderstanding about words, but when silence is not understood."
"In the long run, men hit only what they aim at. Therefore, they had better aim at something high."
"It appears to be a law that you cannot have a deep sympathy with both man and nature."
"It is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things."
"It is an interesting question how far men would retain their relative rank if they were divested of their clothes."
"It is never too late to give up our prejudices."
"It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right."
"It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?"
"It is the greatest of all advantages to enjoy no advantage at all."
"It is usually the imagination that is wounded first, rather than the heart; it being much more sensitive."
"It takes two to speak the truth: one to speak, and another to hear."
"It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see."
"Law never made men a whit more just."
"Live your life, do your work, then take your hat."
"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."
"Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after."
"Men are born to succeed, not to fail."
"Men have become the tools of their tools."
"Money is not required to buy one necessity of the soul."
"Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them."
"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."
"Nature is full of genius, full of the divinity; so that not a snowflake escapes its fashioning hand."
"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."
"None are so old as those who have outlived enthusiasm."
"Not only must we be good, but we must also be good for something."
"Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves."
"Nothing goes by luck in composition. It allows of no tricks. The best you can write will be the best you are."
"Nothing makes the earth seem so spacious as to have friends at a distance; they make the latitudes and longitudes."
"Only he is successful in his business who makes that pursuit which affords him the highest pleasure sustain him."
"Only nature has a right to grieve perpetually, for she only is innocent. Soon the ice will melt, and the blackbirds sing along the river which he frequented, as pleasantly as ever. The same everlasting serenity will appear in this face of God, and we will not be sorrowful, if he is not."
"Only that day dawns to which we are awake."
"Our houses are such unwieldy property that we are often imprisoned rather than housed by them."
"Our inventions are wont to be pretty toys, which distract our attention from serious things. They are but improved means to an unimproved end."
"Our life is frittered away by detail... simplify, simplify."
"Our moments of inspiration are not lost though we have no particular poem to show for them; for those experiences have left an indelible impression, and we are ever and anon reminded of them."
"Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake."
"Politics is the gizzard of society, full of grit and gravel, and the two political parties are its opposite halves - sometimes split into quarters - which grind on each other. Not only individuals but states have thus a confirmed dyspepsia."
"Pursue some path, however narrow and crooked, in which you can walk with love and reverence."
"Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth."
"Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all."
"Shall I not have intelligence with the earth? Am I not partly leaves and vegetable mould myself."
"Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumb-nail."
"Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it."
"Thank God men cannot fly, and lay waste the sky as well as the earth."
"That man is rich whose pleasures are the cheapest."
"Thaw with her gentle persuasion is more powerful than Thor with his hammer. The one melts, the other breaks into pieces."
"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."
"The bluebird carries the sky on his back."
"The Brahmins say that in their books there are many predictions of times in which it will rain. But press those books as strongly as you can, you can not get out of them a drop of water. So you can not get out of all the books that contain the best precepts the smallest good deed."
"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."
"The fibers of all things have their tension and are strained like the strings of an instrument."
"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."
"The greatest compliment that was ever paid me was when one asked me what I thought, and attended to my answer."
"The heart is forever inexperienced."
"The language of friendship is not words but meanings."
"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."
"The man who goes alone can start today; but he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready."
"The man who is dissatisfied with himself, what can he do?"
"The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation."
"The most I can do for my friend is simply be his friend."
"The perception of beauty is a moral test."
"The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it."
"The savage in man is never quite eradicated."
"The squirrel that you kill in jest, dies in earnest."
"The youth gets together his materials to build a bridge to the moon, or, perchance, a palace or temple on the earth, and, at length, the middle-aged man concludes to build a woodshed with them."
"There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root."
"There is no more fatal blunderer than he who consumes the greater part of his life getting his living."
"There is no odor so bad as that which arises from goodness tainted."
"There is no remedy for love but to love more."
"There is no rule more invariable than that we are paid for our suspicions by finding what we suspect."
"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."
"Things do not change; we change."
"This world is but a canvas to our imagination."
"Through our own recovered innocence we discern the innocence of our neighbors."
"Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in."
"To a philosopher all news, as it is called, is gossip, and they who edit and read it are old women over their tea."
"To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts."
"To have done anything just for money is to have been truly idle."
"To read well, that is, to read true books in a true spirit, is a noble exercise, and one that will task the reader more than any other exercise which the customs of the day esteem. It requires a training such as the athletes underwent, the steady intention almost of the whole life to this object."
"Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison."
"Visit the Navy-Yard, and behold a marine, such a man as an American government can make, or such as it can make a man with its black arts - a mere shadow and reminiscence of humanity, a man laid out alive and standing, and already, as one may say, buried under arms with funeral accompaniments."
"We are always paid for our suspicion by finding what we suspect."
"We know but a few men, a great many coats and breeches."
"We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aid, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn."
"We must walk consciously only part way toward our goal, and then leap in the dark to our success."
"We shall see but a little way if we require to understand what we see."
"We should distrust any enterprise that requires new clothes."
"What does education often do? It makes a straight-cut ditch of a free, meandering brook."
"What is called genius is the abundance of life and health."
"What is human warfare but just this; an effort to make the laws of God and nature take sides with one party."
"What is once well done is done forever."
"What is the use of a house if you haven't got a tolerable planet to put it on?"
"What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lives within us."
"What old people say you cannot do, you try and find that you can. Old deeds for old people, and new deeds for new."
"What you get by achieving your goals is to as important as what you become by achieving your goals."
"What's the use of a fine house if you haven't got a tolerable planet to put it on?"
"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."
"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."
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