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Quotations from
Henry David Thoreau

[1817-62]

common portrait of Henry David Thoreau [1817-62] in sepia       American Transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau was a paleo-environmentalist, an abolitionist, a poet, and an author; his books, articles, essays, journals, and poetry total over 20 volumes. He spent most of his life in and around Concord, Massachusetts.

Links are provided below for further investigation.
The references to WMail issues indicate quotes that appeared in the free monthly 'WMail' ezine
connected with the revolutionary "Working Minds Philosophy of Empowerment" created by G.E. Nordell.

After WMail Issue #72 in October 2007, essays & quotations & news are being posted to the Dateline Chamesa blog

Henry David Thoreau entry at Wikipedia
Thoreau Society, Inc. [est. 1941] based in Concord, Massachusetts
Thoreau Institute at Walden [est. 1998] in Maine

Henry David Thoreau Page
at Spirit of America Bookstore

Quotable Thoreau book edited by Jeffrey S. Cramer  
"The Quotable Thoreau" [2011]
Edited by Jeffrey S. Cramer

Princeton Univ Press 7¼x4½ hardcover [4/2011] for $15.71



“The only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think right.”  {Issue #23}
•      •
“There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.”  {Issue #32}
•      •
“Let every man make known what kind of government would command his respect,
and that will be one step toward obtaining it.”  {Issue #42}
•      •
“Men have become tools of their tools.”  {Issue #51}
•      •
“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” (in "Walden", 1854)  {Issue #61}
•      •
“It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see.”  {Issue #70}
•      •
“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.”  {blog 10/2009}
•      •
“Do not be too moral. You may cheat yourself out of much of life. So aim above morality.
Be not simply good; be good for something.”  {blog 2/2010}
•      •
“It takes two to speak truth, one to speak and another to hear.”  {blog 2/2012}
•      •
“Thank God [that] men cannot fly, and lay waste the sky as well as the earth.”  {blog 1/2013}
•      •
“None are so old as those who have outlived enthusiasm.”  {blog 3/2013}


“Action from principle, the perception and the performance of right, changes things and relations; it is essentially revolutionary,
and does not consist wholly with anything which was. It not only divides states and churches, it divides families;
ay, it divides the individual, separating the diabolical in him from the divine."

often quoted as the shorter "Action from principle . . . is essentially revolutionary.”  {blog 7/2013}


“There must be some narrowness of the soul that compels one to keep secrets.”  {blog 8/2013}
•      •
“That government is best which governs least.”  {blog 11/2013}
~~ in the first paragraph of the 1849 essay "Civil Disobedience"

•      •
“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.”  {blog 12/2013}
•      •
“The squirrel that you kill in jest, dies in earnest.”  {blog 2/2014}
•      •
“Books are the carriers of civilization.”  {blog 3/2014}
•      •
“Go confidently . . . Live the life [that] you imagined.”  {blog 4/2014}
•      •
"It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is, What are we busy about?”  {blog 10/2015 & 2/2017}
•      •
"Do not worry if you have built your castles in the air. They are where they should be. Now put the foundations under them."  {blog 11/2015}

Henry David Thoreau Quotations Not Yet Used on the Blog

“I would rather sit on a pumpkin, and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion.”

“Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.”

“Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.”

“How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.”

“Never look back unless you are planning to go that way.”

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately . . .”

“What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lives within us.”

“Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.”
— in "Civil Disobedience and Other Essays", 1849

“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 [that] he hears, however measured or far away.”

“Books are the treasured wealth of the world and the fit inheritance of generations and nations.” — in "Walden", 1854

“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.”

“Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify.” — in "Walden and Other Writings", 1854

“Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all.”

“I have never found a companion that was so companionable as solitude.”

“All good things are wild and free.”

“The greatest compliment that was ever paid me was when one asked me what I thought, and attended to my answer.”

“Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake.”

“I was not designed to be forced. I will breathe after my own fashion. Let us see who is the strongest.”

“There is no remedy for love, but to love more.”

“Not till we are completely lost or turned around . . . do we begin to find ourselves.”

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