Henry David Thoreau

United States writer and social critic (1817-1862)

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Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.
Dwell as near as possible to the channel in which your life flows.
The language of friendship is not words but meanings.
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.
Nature abhors a vacuum, and if I can only walk with sufficient carelessness I am sure to be filled.
Do not hire a man who does your work for money, but him who does it for love of it.
Goodness is the only investment that never fails.
I have learned this at least by my experiment that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavours to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.
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.
In what concerns you much, do not think that you have companions: know that you are alone in the world.
Man is the artificer of his own happiness.
Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.
The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.
The true harvest of my daily life is somewhat as intangible And indescribably as the tints of morning or evening. It is a little star-dust caught, A segment of the rainbow which I have clutched.
Things do not change we change.
To affect the quality of the day that is the art of life.
Time is but the stream I go a-fishin in. I drink at it, but while I drink I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is. It's thin current slides away, but eternity remains.
My friend is one... who take me for what I am.
The man who goes alone can start today but he who travels with another must wait till the other is ready, and it may be along time before they get off.
Live your beliefs and you can turn the world around.
What a man thinks of himself that is what determines, or rather indicates his fate.
Books are the carriers of civilization. Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill. I think that there is nothing, not even crime, more opposed to poetry, to philosophy, ay, to life itself than this incessant business.
Thank God men cannot as yet fly and lay waste the sky as well as the earth
What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lives within us.
What men call good fellowship is commonly but the virtue of pigs in a litter which lie close together to keep each other warm.
The universe seems bankrupt as soon as we begin to discuss the characters of individuals.
A grain of gold will gild a great surface, but not so much as a grain of wisdom. - from Live Without Principle
A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone.
A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can let alone.
A man is wise with the wisdom of his time only, and ignorant with its ignorance. Observe how the greatest minds yield in some degree to the superstitions of their age.
A simple and independent mind does not toil at the bidding of any prince.
Aim above morality. Be not simply good, be good for something.
All good things are wild, and free.
All perception of truth is the detection of an analogy we reason from our hands to our head.
All perception of truth is the detection of an analogy.
Any fool can make a rule, and any fool will mind it.
Any fool can make a rule,
and any fool will mind it.
Arthur Schopenhauer Only he is successful in his business who makes that pursuit which affords him the highest pleasure sustain him.
As for the pyramids, there is nothing to wonder at in them so much as the fact that so many men could be found degraded enough to spend their lives constructing a tomb for some ambitious booby, whom it would have been wiser and manlier to have drowned in the Nile, and then given his body to the dogs.
As if there were safety in stupidity alone.
As if you could kill time without injuring eternity.
Be not simply good - be good for something.
Be true to your work, your word, and your friend.
City life is millions of people being lonesome together.
Cultivate the habit of early rising. It is unwise to keep the head long on a level with the feet.
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 be too moral. You may cheat yourself out of much life. Aim above morality. Be not simply good be good for something.
Do not be too moral. You may cheat yourself out of much life. Aim above morality. Be not simply good; be good for something.
Do not despair of life. Think of the fox, prowling in a winter night to satisfy his hunger. His race survives I do not believe any of them ever committed suicide.
Do not lose hold of your dreams or aspirations. For if you do, you may still exist but you have ceased to live.
Dreams are the touchstones of our character.
Each thought that is welcomed and recorded is a nest egg by the side of which more will be laid.
Every generation laughs at the old fashions, but follows religiously the new.
Every man is the builder of a temple called his body.
Faint heart never won true friend. O my friend, may it come to pass, once, that when you are my friend I may be yours.
Friends do not live in harmony merely, as some say, but in melody.
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.
Good poetry seems too simple and natural a thing that when we meet it we wonder that all men are not always poets. Poetry is nothing but healthy speech.
Government never furthered any enterprise but the alacrity with which it got out of the way.
Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his friends for his life.
He enjoys true leisure who has time to improve his soul's estate.
Heroes are often the most ordinary of men.
How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book.
How often we find ourselves turning our backs on our actual friends, that we may go and meet their ideal cousins.
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.
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 the richest.
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. God will see that you do want society.
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 the richest.
I derive no pleasure from talking with a young woman simply because she has regular features.
I do not wish to kill nor to be killed, but I can foresee circumstances in which these things would be by me unavoidable.
I have learned this at least by my experiment: 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 lived some thirty years on this planet and I have yet to hear the first syllable of valuable or even earnest advice from my seniors.
I have lived some thirty-odd years on this planet, and I have yet to hear the first syllable of valuable or even earnest advice from my seniors.
I have never found a companion so companionable as solitude.
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 hear many condemn these men because they were so few. When were the good and the braver every in a majority
I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by conscious endeavor.
I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestioned ability of a man to elevate his life by conscious endeavor.
I learned this, at least, by my experiment; that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live he life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.
I learned this, at least, by my experiment; that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavours to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.
I love to be alone. I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude.
I say beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes.
I stand in awe of my body.
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.
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 he hears, how ever measured or far away.
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 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 faraway.
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 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.
If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he imaged, he will meet with success unexpected in common hours.
If the day and the night are such that you greet them with with joy, and life emits a fragrance like flowers and sweet-scented herbs, more elastic, more starry, more immortal--that is your success.
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 dreams we see ourselves naked and acting our real characters, even more clearly than we see others awake.
In solitude especialy do we begin to appreciate the advantage of living with someone who can think.
In the long run you only hit what you aim at. Therefore, though you should fail immediately, you had better aim at something high.
In the long run, men hit only what they aim at. Therefore, they had better aim at something high.
In the long run, you hit only what you aim at: Therefore aim high.
In what concerns you much, do not think that you have companions know that you are alone in the world.
In wilderness is the preservation of the world.
In wildness is the preservation of the world. - from Walking
It is an interesting question how far men would retain their relative rank if they were divested of their clothes.
It is characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things.
It is never too late to give up our prejudices.
It is never too late to give up your prejudices.
It is not enough to be busy the question is what are we busy about
It is only when we forget all our learning that we begin to know.
It is pleasant to have been to a place the way a river went.
It takes two to speak the truth--one to speak and the other to hear.
It takes two to speak truth - One to speak, and another to hear.
Let your life be a counter friction to stop the machine.
Life should begin with age and its privileges and accumulations, and end with youth and its capacity to splendidly enjoy such advantages.
Live each season as it passes breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each.
Live each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each.
Make the most of your regrets. . . . To regret deeply is to live afresh.
Men are born to succeed, not fail.
Men are born to succeed, not to fail.
Men have become the tools of their tools
Men have become the tools of their tools.
Money is not required to buy one necessary of the soul.
Most men would feel insulted if it were proposed to employ them in throwing stones over a wall, and then in throwing them back, merely that they might earn their wages. But many are no more worthily employed now.
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.
Most people dread finding out when they come to die that they have never really lived.
Must be out-of-doors enough to get experience of wholesome reality, as a ballast to thought and sentiment. Health requires this relaxation, this aimless life
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.
Nay, be a Columbus to whole new continents and worlds within you, opening new channels, not of trade, but of thought. Every man is the lord of a realm beside which the earthly empire of the Czar is but a petty state, a hummock left by the ice.
No one is so old as those who have outlived enthusiasm.
None can be an impartial or wise observer of human life but from the vantage ground of what we should call voluntary poverty.
Not that the story need be long, but it will take a long while to make it short.
Not till we are lost, in other words, not till we have lost the world, do we begin to find ourselves, and realize the infinite extent of our relations.
One may discover a new side to his most intimate friend when for the first time he hears him speak in public. He will be stranger to him as he is more familiar to the audience. The longest intimacy could not foretell how he would behave then
One may discover a new side to his most intimate friend when for the first time he hears him speak in public. He will be stranger to him as he is more familiar to the audience. The longest intimacy could not foretell how he would behave then.
Our houses are such unwieldy property that we are often imprisoned rather than housed in them.
Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify.
Our truest life is when we are in our dreams awake.
Sobriety, severity, and self-respect are the foundations of all true sociality.
Some circumstantial evidence is very strong, as when you find a trout in the milk.
Thank God men cannot as yet fly and lay waste the sky as well as the earth!
That government is best which governs least. - from Civil Disobedience
That man is the richest whose pleasures are the cheapest.
The character inherent in the American people has done all that has been accomplished and it would have done somewhat more, if the government had not sometimes got in its way.
The character inherent in the American people has done all that has been accomplished; and it would have done somewhat more, if the government had not sometimes got in its way.
The cost of a thing is the amount of what I call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.
The cost of a things is the amount of what I call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.
The finest qualities of our nature, like the bloom on fruits, can be preserved only by the most delicate handling. Yet we do not treat ourselves nor one another thus tenderly.
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 someone asked me what I thought , and attended to my answer.
The language of friendship is not words, but meanings. It is an intelligence about language.
The lawyer's truth is not Truth, but consistency or a consistent expediency.
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 for whom law exists -- the man of forms, the Conservative, is a tame man.
The most I can do for my friend is simply be his friend.
The savage in man is never quite eradicated.
The universe is wider than our views of it.
The way by which you may get money almost without exception leads downward.
The ways by which you may get money almost without exception lead downward. - from Live Without Principle
The world is but a canvas to the imagination.
There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at its root.
There are now-a-days professors of philosophy but not philosophers.
There is no more fatal blunderer than he who consumes the greater part of his life getting his living. - from Live Without Principle
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.
This American government -- what is it but a tradition, though a recent one, endeavoring to transmit itself unimpaired to posterity, but each instant losing some of its integrity? It has not the vitality and force of a single living man; for a single man can bend it to his will.
Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in. I drink at it; but while I drink, I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is. Its thin current slides away, but eternity remains. I would drink deeper; fish fill the sky, whose bottom is pebbly with stars. I cannot count one. I know not the first letter of the alphabet. I have always been regretting that I was not as wise as the day I was born.
To a philosopher all news, as it is called, is gossip, an they who edit and read it are old women over their tea.
To be a philosopher is not merely to have subtle thoughts, not even to found a school, but so to love wisdom as to live according to its dictates, a life of simplicity, independence, magnanimity, and trust.
To reget deeply is to live afresh.
To regret deeply is to live afresh.
True friendship can afford true knowledge. It does not depend on darkness and ignorance.
Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is in prison.
Water is the only drink for a wise man.
We are always paid for our suspicion by finding what we suspect.
We are armed with language adequate to describe each leaf of the filed, but not to describe human character.
We are sometimes made aware of a kindness long passed, and realize that there have been times when our friends' thoughts of us were of so pure and lofty a character that they passed over us like the winds of heaven unnoticed when they treated us not as what we were, but as what we aspired to be. -- from A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers
We do not learn by inference and deduction and the application of mathematics to philosophy, but by direct intercourse and sympathy.
We falsely attribute to men a determined character - putting together all their yesterdays - and averaging them - we presume we know them. Pity the man who has character to support - it is worse than a large family - he is the silent poor indeed.
We must have infinite faith in each other. If we have not, we must never let it leak out that we have not.
We must walk consciously only part way toward our goal, and then leap in the dark to our success.
We seem but to linger in manhood to tell the dreams of our childhood, and they vanish out of memory ere we learn the language.
We shall see but a little way if we require to understand what we see.
What does education often do It makes a straight-cut ditch of a free, meandering brook.
What is a country without rabbits and partridges They are among the most simple and indigenous animal products ancient and venerable familes known to antiquity as to modern times of the very hue and substance of Nature, nearest allied to leaves and to the ground.
What is called genius is the abundance of life and health.
What is the use of a house if you haven't got a tolerable planet to put it on
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 people say you cannot do, you try and find that you can.
Whatever sentence will bear to be read twice, we may be sure was thought twice.
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.
When I read some of the rules for speaking and writing the English language correctly...I think-- Any fool can make a rule And every fool will mind it.
Why should we be in such desperate hast 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.
Why should we live with such hurry and waste of life We are determined to be starved before we are hungry. Men say that a stitch in time saves nine, and so they take a thousand stitiches today to save nine tomorrow.
You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land, this is no other life but this.
[Water is] the only drink for a wise man.

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