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Henry David Thoreau quotes page 1

July 12, 1817 – May 6, 1862; Henry David Thoreau was a famed poet, author and philosopher who published many works throughout the first half of the 19th century. While he is most famed for his writing, Thoreau also worked as a surveyor, development critic, historian, tax resister, naturalist and abolitionist and allowed all of these pursuits to reflect heavily on the type of work he created. He wrote over 20 volumes of work and made several valuable contributions to natural history by improving on the methods of collecting ecological data. This is well noted in his book, Walden, which made notes on how to live a simple life in order to better reflect on one's natural surroundings. He would often use natural elements as symbolism in his poetry or historically-based tales. He would also compare natural decay to historical change, a common theme in his time, given the industrial revolution and upcoming Civil War which would begin at the end of his lifetime. Thoreau was a proud "Yankee" and would frequently write on the subject of civil unrest. The most common example of this is his famous essay, Resistance to Civil Government, which called for disobedience from the public whom he believed to be living in an unjust state. He frequently called for individuals to attack the Fugitive Slave Law and would commonly assist fellow abolitionists with tearing down the confines of slavery. Some refer to Henry Thoreau as an anarchist, though this is often discredited because his works clearly refer to ways in which the public could improve the government rather than do away with it. Thoreau's many writings have been quoted as inspiration for many leaders including Martin Luther King Jr. and Mohandas Gandhi. By the time of his death from tuberculosis in 1862, Henry was regarded as one of the best modern writers in the United States, a title many will still honor him with today.

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.
Henry David Thoreau

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

Men have become the tools of their tools.
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

It is not enough to be busy. The question is: what are we busy about?
Henry David Thoreau

It takes two to speak truth - one to speak and another to hear.
Henry David Thoreau

It is preoccupation with possessions, more than anything else, that prevents us from living
freely and nobly.
Henry David Thoreau

My friend is one who takes me for what I am.
Henry David Thoreau

You cannot kill time without injuring eternity.
Henry David Thoreau

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

In the long run men hit only what they aim at.
Henry David Thoreau

I came into this world, not chiefly to make this a good place to live in, but to live in it, be
it good or bad.
Henry David Thoreau

Never look back unless you are planning to go that way.
Henry David Thoreau

Nothing is so much to be feared as fear.
Henry David Thoreau

A true account of the actual is the rarest poetry, for common sense always takes a hasty
and superficial view.
Henry David Thoreau

There is no odor so bad as that which arises from goodness tainted.
Henry David Thoreau

Men will lie on their backs, talking about the fall of man, and never make an effort to get up.
Henry David Thoreau

It is never too late to give up your prejudices.
Henry David Thoreau

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

The perception of beauty is a moral test.
Henry David Thoreau

Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify.
Henry David Thoreau

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

I believe in the forest, and in the meadow, and in the night in which the corn grows.
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

Through our own recovered innocence we discern the innocence of our neighbors.
Henry David Thoreau

One must maintain a little bittle of summer, even in the middle of winter.
Henry David Thoreau

Be not simply good; be good for something.
Henry David Thoreau

Cultivate the habit of early rising. It is unwise to keep the head long on a level with the feet.
Henry David Thoreau

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

Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.
Henry David Thoreau

Goodness is the only investment that never fails.
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

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 they had to teach; and not, when I came to die,
discover that I had not lived.
Henry David Thoreau

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.
Henry David Thoreau

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

Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.
Henry David Thoreau

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

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