Henry David Thoreau Quotes

It was, perhaps, even a more grand and desolate place for a night's lodging than the summit would have been, being in the neighborhood of those wild trees, and of the torrent. Some more ærial and finer-spirited winds rushed and roared through the ravine all night, from time to time arousing our fire, and dispersing the embers about. It was as if we lay in the very nest of a young whirlwind. At midnight, one of my bed-fellows, being startled in his dreams by the sudden blazing up to its top of a fir tree, whose green boughs were dried by the heat, sprang up, with a cry, from his bed, thinking the world on fire, and drew the whole camp after him.
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist. "Ktaadn" (1848) in The Maine Woods (1864), in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 3, pp. 68-69, Houghton Mifflin (1906).
(0) (0)
I find it, as ever, very unprofitable to have much to do with men. It is sowing the wind, but not reaping even the whirlwind; only reaping an unprofitable calm and stagnation. Our conversation is a smooth, and civil, and never-ending speculation merely.
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist. Letter, August 8, 1854, to Harrison Blake, in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 6, p. 229, Houghton Mifflin (1906).
(0) (0)
Concord's little arch does not span all our fate, nor is what transpires under it law for the universe.
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist. Letter, July 8, 1843, to Ralph Waldo Emerson, in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 6, p. 93, Houghton Mifflin (1906).
(0) (0)
You must come back soon, or you will be superseded.
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist. Letter, November 14, 1847, to Ralph Waldo Emerson, in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 6, p. 136, Houghton Mifflin (1906). Thoreau is writing to Emerson in England, among other things telling him how well he is getting on with Mrs. Emerson and the children.
(0) (0)
Knowledge does not come to us by details, but in flashes of light from heaven.
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist. "Life Without Principle" (1863), in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 4, p. 476, Houghton Mifflin (1906).
(0) (0)
Thus is Paradise to be Regained, and that old and stern decree at length reversed. Man shall no more earn his living by the sweat of his brow. All labor shall be reduced to "a short turn of some crank," and "taking the finished articles away." But there is a crank,—oh, how hard to be turned! Could there not be a crank upon a crank,—an infinitely small crank? Mwe would fain inquire. No,—alas! not.... In fact, no work can be shirked. It may be postponed indefinitely, but not infinitely. Nor can any really important work be made easier by coöperation or machinery. Not one particle of labor now threatening any man can be routed without being performed. It cannot be hunted out of the vicinity like jackals and hyenas. It will not run. You may begin by sawing the little sticks, or you may saw the great sticks first, but sooner or later you must saw them both.
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist. "Paradise (To Be) Regained" (1843), in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 4, p. 297, Houghton Mifflin (1906).
(0) (0)
This man was very clever and quick to learn anything in his line. Our tent was of a kind new to him; but when he had once seen it pitched, it was surprising how quickly he would find and prepare the pole and forked stakes to pitch it with, cutting and placing them right the first time, though I am sure that the majority of white men would have blundered several times.
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist. "The Allegash and East Branch" (1864) in The Maine Woods (1864), in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 3, p. 222, Houghton Mifflin (1906).
(0) (0)
Their leader was a handsome man about thirty years old, of good height, but not apparently robust, of gentlemanly address and faultless toilet; such a one as you might expect to meet on Broadway. In fact, in the popular sense of the word, he was the most "gentlemanly" appearing man in the stage, or that we saw on the road. He had a fair white complexion, as if he had always lived in the shade, and an intellectual face, and with his quiet manners might have passed for a divinity student who had seen something of the world. I was surprised to find, on talking with him in the course of the day's journey, that he was a hunter at all,—for his gun was not much exposed,—and yet more to find that he was probably the chief white hunter of Maine, and was known all along the road.... In the spring, he had saved a stage-driver and two passengers from drowning in the backwater of the Piscataquis in Foxcroft on this road, having swum ashore in the freezing water and made a raft and got them off,—though the horses were drowned,—at great risk to himself, while the only other man who could swim withdrew to the nearest house to prevent freezing. He could now ride over this road for nothing. He knew our man, and remarked that we had a good Indian there, a good hunter; adding that he was said to be worth $6000. The Indian also knew him, and said to me, "the great hunter."
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist. "The Allegash and East Branch" (1864) in The Maine Woods (1864), in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 3, pp. 178-179, Houghton Mifflin (1906).
(0) (0)
They did not hang him at once, but reserved him to preach to them.
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist. "The Last Days of John Brown" (1860), in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 4, p. 448, Houghton Mifflin (1906).
(0) (0)
Wherever a man goes, men will pursue him and paw him with their dirty institutions, and, if they can, constrain him to belong to their desperate odd-fellow society.
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist. Walden, "The Village," (1854).
(0) (0)