Thoreau Quotes

We've searched our database for all the quotes and captions related to Thoreau. Here they are! All 100 of them:

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I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that 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.
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Henry David Thoreau (Walden: Or, Life in the Woods)
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Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.
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Henry David Thoreau (Walden)
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How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.
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Henry David Thoreau
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The question is not what you look at, but what you see.
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Henry David Thoreau
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Dreams are the touchstones of our characters.
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Henry David Thoreau
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I find it wholesome to be alone the greater part of the time. To be in company, even with the best, is soon wearisome and dissipating. I love to be alone. I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude.
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Henry David Thoreau (Walden)
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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.
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Henry David Thoreau (Walden)
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Books are the treasured wealth of the world and the fit inheritance of generations and nations.
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Henry David Thoreau (Walden)
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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.
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Henry David Thoreau
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You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this.
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Henry David Thoreau
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All good things are wild and free.
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Henry David Thoreau
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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 did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms...
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Henry David Thoreau
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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 he hears, however measured or far away.
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Henry David Thoreau
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Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify.
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Henry David Thoreau (Walden and Other Writings)
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I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately...
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Henry David Thoreau
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Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.
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Henry David Thoreau (Walden)
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I would rather sit on a pumpkin, and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion.
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Henry David Thoreau
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Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all.
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Henry David Thoreau (A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers)
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I'm going to paraphrase Thoreau here... rather than love, than money, than faith, than fame, than fairness... give me truth.
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Jon Krakauer (Into the Wild)
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As Thoreau wrote, β€˜It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.
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Matt Haig (The Midnight Library)
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Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.
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Henry David Thoreau
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The greatest compliment that was ever paid me was when one asked me what I thought, and attended to my answer.
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Henry David Thoreau
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As if you could kill time without injuring eternity.
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Henry David Thoreau (Walden)
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I was not born to be forced. I will breathe after my own fashion. Let us see who is the strongest.
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Henry David Thoreau (On the Duty of Civil Disobedience)
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Nothing makes the earth seem so spacious as to have friends at a distance; they make the latitudes and longitudes.
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Henry David Thoreau
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I learned this, at least, by my experiment; that 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..
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Henry David Thoreau
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Things do not change; we change.
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Henry David Thoreau (Walden)
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There is no remedy for love but to love more.
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Henry David Thoreau
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The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation. From the desperate city you go into the desperate country, and have to console yourself with the bravery of minks and muskrats. A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind. There is no play in them, for this comes after work. But it is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things..
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Henry David Thoreau (Civil Disobedience and Other Essays)
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Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake.
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Henry David Thoreau
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We need the tonic of wildness...At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature.
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Henry David Thoreau (Walden: Or, Life in the Woods)
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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.
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Henry David Thoreau (Walden)
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Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.
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Henry David Thoreau (Walden)
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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.
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Henry David Thoreau
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The animal merely makes a bed, which he warms with his body in a sheltered place; but man, having discovered fire, boxes up some air in a spacious apartment, and warms that, instead of robbing himself, makes that his bed, in which he can move about divested of more cumbrous clothing, maintain a kind of summer in the midst of winter, and by means of windows even admit the light and with a lamp lengthen out the day.
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Henry David Thoreau
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If we will be quiet and ready enough, we shall find compensation in every disappointment.
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Henry David Thoreau (I to Myself: An Annotated Selection from the Journal of Henry D. Thoreau)
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Any fool can make a rule And any fool will mind it.
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Henry David Thoreau (Journal #14)
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A man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone.
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Henry David Thoreau (Walden)
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Every generation laughs at the old fashions, but follows religiously the new.
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Henry David Thoreau (Walden)
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All men want, not something to do with, but something to do, or rather something to be.
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Henry David Thoreau (Walden)
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The language of Friendship is not words, but meanings.
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Henry David Thoreau (A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers (Writings of Henry D. Thoreau))
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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.
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Henry David Thoreau
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What is the use of a house if you haven't got a tolerable planet to put it on?
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Henry David Thoreau (Familiar letters (The Writings of Henry David Thoreau))
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I can alter my life by altering my attitude. He who would have nothing to do with thorns must never attempt to gather flowers.
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Henry David Thoreau
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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.
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Henry David Thoreau (Walden)
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An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.
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Henry David Thoreau
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Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant?
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Henry David Thoreau
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This world is but canvas to our imaginations.
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Henry David Thoreau (A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers (Writings of Henry D. Thoreau))
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Only that day dawns to which we are awake. There is more day to dawn. The sun is but a morning star.
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Henry David Thoreau (Walden)
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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.
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Henry David Thoreau
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It is never too late to give up your prejudices
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Henry David Thoreau
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The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.
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Henry David Thoreau (Walden)
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However mean your life is, meet it and live it; do not shun it and call it hard names. It is not so bad as you are. It looks poorest when you are richest. The fault-finder will find faults even in paradise. Love your life, poor as it is. You may perhaps have some pleasant, thrilling, glorious hours, even in a poorhouse. The setting sun is reflected from the windows of the almshouse as brightly as from the rich man's abode; the snow melts before its door as early in the spring. I do not see but a quiet mind may live as contentedly there, and have as cheering thoughts, as in a palace.
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Henry David Thoreau (Walden)
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How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book.
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Henry David Thoreau (Walden)
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...for my greatest skill has been to want but little.
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Henry David Thoreau (Walden)
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It is not worth the while to let our imperfections disturb us always.
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Henry David Thoreau
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I say, beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes.
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Henry David Thoreau (Walden : An Annotated Edition)
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Write while the heat is in you. The writer who postpones the recording of his thoughts uses an iron which has cooled to burn a hole with. He cannot inflame the minds of his audience.
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Henry David Thoreau
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There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.
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Henry David Thoreau (Walden, or Life in the Woods)
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The most I can do for my friend is simply to be his friend.
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Henry David Thoreau
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Pursue some path, however narrow and crooked, in which you can walk with love and reverence.
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Henry David Thoreau
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I had three chairs in my house; one for solitude, two for friendship, three for society.
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Henry David Thoreau (Walden)
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Say what you have to say, not what you ought. Any truth is better than make-believe.
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Henry David Thoreau
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If you would convince a man that he does wrong, do right. But do not care to convince him. Men will believe what they see. Let them see.
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Henry David Thoreau
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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.
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Henry David Thoreau (On the Duty of Civil Disobedience)
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It is not enough to be industrious; so are the ants. What are you industrious about?
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Henry David Thoreau (Letters to Various Persons)
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Every morning was a cheerful invitation to make my life of equal simplicity, and I may say innocence, with Nature herself.
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Henry David Thoreau (Walden)
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The universe is wider than our views of it.
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Henry David Thoreau (Walden & Civil Disobedience)
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Wildness is the preservation of the World.
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Henry David Thoreau (Walking)
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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.
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Henry David Thoreau
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We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aids, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn, which does not forsake us even in our soundest sleep. I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by a conscious endeavour. It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make a few objects beautiful; but it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look, which morally we can do. To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts.
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Henry David Thoreau (Walden)
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The path of least resistance leads to crooked rivers and crooked men.
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Henry David Thoreau
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Friends... they cherish one another's hopes. They are kind to one another's dreams.
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Henry David Thoreau (A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers (Writings of Henry D. Thoreau))
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A lake is a landscape's most beautiful and expressive feature. It is Earth's eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature.
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Henry David Thoreau (Walden)
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Amid a world of noisy, shallow actors it is noble to stand aside and say, 'I will simply be.
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Henry David Thoreau
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Men have become the tools of their tools.
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Henry David Thoreau
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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.
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Henry David Thoreau
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The lonely mind in the busy city yearns for connection because it thinks human-to-human connection is the point of everything. But amid pure nature (or the β€˜tonic of wildness’ as Thoreau called it) solitude took on a different character. It became in itself a kind of connection. A connection between herself and the world. And between her and herself.
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Matt Haig (The Midnight Library)
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Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
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Henry David Thoreau
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We are born as innocents. We are polluted by advice.
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Henry David Thoreau
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I have, as it were, my own sun and moon and stars, and a little world all to myself.
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Henry David Thoreau (Walden)
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I should not talk so much about myself if there were anybody else whom I knew as well.
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Henry David Thoreau (Walden: Or, Life in the Woods)
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Thank God men cannot fly, and lay waste the sky as well as the earth.
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Henry David Thoreau
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Men are born to succeed, not to fail.
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Henry David Thoreau
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I do believe in simplicity. It is astonishing as well as sad, how many trivial affairs even the wisest thinks he must attend to in a day; how singular an affair he thinks he must omit. When the mathematician would solve a difficult problem, he first frees the equation of all incumbrances, and reduces it to its simplest terms. So simplify the problem of life, distinguish the necessary and the real. Probe the earth to see where your main roots run.
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Henry David Thoreau
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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. It is not important that he should mature as soon as an apple-tree or an oak. Shall he turn his spring into summer?
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Henry David Thoreau (Walden)
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The preachers and lecturers deal with men of straw, as they are men of straw themselves. Why, a free-spoken man, of sound lungs, cannot draw a long breath without causing your rotten institutions to come toppling down by the vacuum he makes. Your church is a baby-house made of blocks, and so of the state. ...The church, the state, the school, the magazine, think they are liberal and free! It is the freedom of a prison-yard.
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Henry David Thoreau (I to Myself: An Annotated Selection from the Journal of Henry D. Thoreau)
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On the death of a friend, we should consider that the fates through confidence have devolved on us the task of a double living, that we have henceforth to fulfill the promise of our friend's life also, in our own, to the world.
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Henry David Thoreau
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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. He will put some things behind, will pass an invisible boundary; new, universal, and more liberal laws will begin to establish themselves around and within him; or the old laws be expanded, and interpreted in his favor in a more liberal sense, and he will live with the license of a higher order of beings.
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Henry David Thoreau (Walden)
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In the morning I bathe my intellect in the stupendous and cosmogonal philosophy of the Bhagvat Geeta, since whose composition years of the gods have elapsed, and in comparison with which our modern world and its literature seem puny and trivial; and I doubt if that philosophy is not to be referred to a previous state of existence, so remote is its sublimity from our conceptions. I lay down the book and go to my well for water, and lo! there I meet the servant of the Bramin, priest of Brahma and Vishnu and Indra, who still sits in his temple on the Ganges reading the Vedas, or dwells at the root of a tree with his crust and water jug. I meet his servant come to draw water for his master, and our buckets as it were grate together in the same well. The pure Walden water is mingled with the sacred water of the Ganges.
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Henry David Thoreau (Walden)
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A truly good book…teaches me better than to read it. I must soon lay it down and commence living on its hint. When I read an indifferent book, it seems the best thing I can do, but the inspiring volume hardly leaves me leisure to finish its latter pages. It is slipping out of my fingers while I read…What I began by reading I must finish by acting.
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Henry David Thoreau
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The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation. From the desperate city you go into the desperate country, and have to console yourself with the bravery of minks and muskrats. A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind. There is no play in them, for this comes after work. But it is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things.
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Henry David Thoreau (Walden)
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One farmer says to me, 'You cannot live on vegetable food solely, for it furnishes nothing to make bones with;' and so he religiously devotes a part of his day to supplying his system with the raw material of bones; walking all the while he talks behind his oxen, which, with vegetable-made bones, jerk him and his lumbering plow along in spite of every obstacle.
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Henry David Thoreau (Walden)
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If the injustice is part of the necessary friction of the machine of government, let it go, let it go: perchance it will wear smooth--certainly the machine will wear out… but if it is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then I say, break the law. Let your life be a counter-friction to stop the machine. What I have to do is to see, at any rate, that I do not lend myself to the wrong which I condemn.
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Henry David Thoreau (Civil Disobedience and Other Essays)
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A written word is the choicest of relics. It is something at once more intimate with us and more universal than any other work of art. It is the work of art nearest to life itself. It may be translated into every language, and not only be read but actually breathed from all human lips; -- not be represented on canvas or in marble only, but be carved out of the breath of life itself.
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Henry David Thoreau (Walden)
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I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual. It is surprising how contented one can be with nothing definite - only a sense of existence. Well, anything for variety. I am ready to try this for the next ten thousand years, and exhaust it. How sweet to think of! my extremities well charred, and my intellectual part too, so that there is no danger of worm or rot for a long while. My breath is sweet to me. O how I laugh when I think of my vague indefinite riches. No run on my bank can drain it, for my wealth is not possession but enjoyment.
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Henry David Thoreau
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If the day and the night are such that you greet them with joy, and life emits a fragrance like flowers and sweet-scented herbs, is more elastic, more starry, more immortal- that is your success. All nature is your congratulation, and you have cause momentarily to bless yourself. The greatest gains and values are farthest from being appreciated. We easily come to doubt if they exist. We soon forget them. They are the highest reality. Perhaps the facts most astounding and most real are never communicated by man to man. The true harvest of my daily life is somewhat as intangible and indescribable as the tints of morning or evening. It is a little star-dust caught, a segment of the rainbow which I have clutched.
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Henry David Thoreau (Walden)
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However mean your life is, meet and live it; do not shun it and call it hard names. It is not so bad as you are. It looks poorest when you are richest. The fault-finder will find faults even in paradise. Love your life, poor as it is. You may perhaps have some pleasant, thrilling, glorious hours, even in a poorhouse. The setting sun is reflected from the windows of the almshouse as brightly as from the rich man’s abode; the snow melts before its doors as early in the spring. Cultivate property like a garden herb, like sage. Do not trouble yourself much to get new things, whether clothes or friends. Turn the old; return to them. Things do not change; we change. Sell your clothes and keep your thoughts… Superfluous wealth can buy superfluities only. Money is not required to buy one necessary of the soul.
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Henry David Thoreau (Walden)
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I was once reproved by a minister who was driving a poor beast to some meeting-house horse-sheds among the hills of New Hampshire, because I was bending my steps to a mountain-top on the Sabbath, instead of a church, when I would have gone farther than he to hear a true word spoken on that or any day. He declared that I was 'breaking the Lord's fourth commandment,' and proceeded to enumerate, in a sepulchral tone, the disasters which had befallen him whenever he had done any ordinary work on the Sabbath. He really thought that a god was on the watch to trip up those men who followed any secular work on this day, and did not see that it was the evil conscience of the workers that did it. The country is full of this superstition, so that when one enters a village, the church, not only really but from association, is the ugliest looking building in it, because it is the one in which human nature stoops the lowest and is most disgraced. Certainly, such temples as these shall erelong cease to deform the landscape. There are few things more disheartening and disgusting than when you are walking the streets of a strange village on the Sabbath, to hear a preacher shouting like a boatswain in a gale of wind, and thus harshly profaning the quiet atmosphere of the day.
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Henry David Thoreau (A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers (Writings of Henry D. Thoreau))
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Unjust laws exist; shall we be content to obey them, or shall we endeavor to amend them, and obey them until we have succeeded, or shall we transgress them at once? Men generally, under such a government as this, think that they ought to wait until they have persuaded the majority to alter them. They think that, if they should resist, the remedy would be worse than the evil. But it is the fault of the government itself that the remedy is worse than the evil. It makes it worse. Why is it not more apt to anticipate and provide for reform? Why does it not cherish its wise minority? Why does it cry and resist before it is hurt? Why does it not encourage its citizens to be on the alert to point out its faults, and do better than it would have them?
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Henry David Thoreau (Civil Disobedience and Other Essays)