Read Thoreau: Quotations

  • How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live. -Thoreau's Journal, August 19, 1851

  • Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads. - Walden, "The Pond in Winter"

  • What is the use of a house if you haven't got a tolerable planet to put it on? Letter to H.G.O. Blake, May 20, 1860

  • 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. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. - Walden, "Conclusion"

  • In Wildness is the preservation of the world. - From the essay "Walking"

  • I say, beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes.  Walden, "Economy"

  • Things do not change; we change." - Walden, "Conclusion"

  • Aim above morality. Be not simply good, be good for something. - Letter to H.G.O. Blake, March 1848
  • The question is not what you look at, but what you see. - Journal, August 5, 1851

  • I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by conscious endeavor. 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. - Walden, "Where I Lived and What I Lived For"

  • It is not enough to be industrious. So are the ants. The question is: What are we industrious about? - Letter to Harrison Blake, November 16, 1857

  • 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." - From Thoreau's Natural History of Massachusetts

  • … if you are restricted in your range by poverty, if you cannot buy books and newspapers, for instance, you are but confined to the most significant and vital experiences; you are compelled to deal with the material which yields the most sugar and the most starch. It is life near the bone where it is sweetest. - Walden, "Conclusion"

  • 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.  Walden, "Where I Lived, and What I Lived For"