Henry David Thoreau Quotes

The heroic books, even if printed in the character of our mother tongue, will always be in a language dead to degenerate times; and we must laboriously seek the meaning of each word and line, conjecturing a larger sense than common use permits out of what wisdom and valor and generosity we have. The modern cheap and fertile press, with all its translations, has done little to bring us nearer to the heroic writers of antiquity. They seem as solitary, and the letter in which they are printed as rare and curious, as ever.
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist. Walden (1854), in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 2, p. 111, Houghton Mifflin (1906).
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A town is saved, not more by the righteous men in it than by the woods and swamps that surround it.
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist. "Walking" (1862), in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 5, p. 229, Houghton Mifflin (1906).
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Within the circuit of this plodding life There enter moments of an azure hue, Untarnished fair as is the violet Or anemone, when the spring strews them By some meandering rivulet, which make The best philosophy untrue that aims But to console man for his grievances. I have remembered when the winter came,
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), U.S. writer. Winter Memories (l. 1-8). . . Oxford Book of American Verse, The. F. O. Matthiessen, ed. (1950) Oxford University Press.
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What have Massachusetts and the North sent a few sane representatives to Congress for, of late years?... All their speeches put together and boiled down ... do not match for manly directness and force, and for simple truth, the few casual remarks of crazy John Brown on the floor of the Harper's Ferry engine-house,—that man whom you are about to hang, to send to the other world, though not to represent you there.
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist. "A Plea for Captain John Brown" (1859), in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 4, pp. 426-427, Houghton Mifflin (1906).
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In civilization, as in a southern latitude, man degenerates at length, and yields to the incursion of more northern tribes.
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist. A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers (1849), in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 1, p. 56, Houghton Mifflin (1906).
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The sound of the Sabbath bell far away, now breaking on these shores, does not awaken pleasing associations, but melancholy and sombre ones rather. One involuntarily rests on his oar, to humor his unusually meditative mood. It is as the sound of many catechisms and religious books twanging a canting peal round the earth, seeming to issue from some Egyptian temple and echo along the shore of the Nile, right opposite to Pharoah's palace and Moses in the bulrushes, startling a multitude of storks and alligators basking in the sun.
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist. A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers (1849), in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 1, p. 78, Houghton Mifflin (1906).
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The researcher is more memorable than the researched.
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist. A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers (1849), in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 1, p. 161, Houghton Mifflin (1906). Thoreau means this sarcastically.
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His character as one of the fathers of the English language would alone make his works important, even those which have little poetical merit. He was as simple as Wordsworth in preferring his homely but vigorous Saxon tongue, when it was neglected by the court, and had not yet attained to the dignity of a literature, and rendered a similar service to his country to that which Dante rendered to Italy.
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist. A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers (1849), in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 1, pp. 394-395, Houghton Mifflin (1906).
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A man's whole life is taxed for the least thing well done. It is its net result.
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist. A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers (1849), in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 1, p. 107, Houghton Mifflin (1906).
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This autumnal festival, when men are gathered in crowds in the streets as regularly and by as natural a law as the leaves cluster and rustle by the wayside, is naturally associated in my mind with the fall of the year. The low of cattle in the streets sounds like a hoarse symphony or running bass to the rustling of the leaves. The wind goes hurrying down the country, gleaning every loose straw that is left in the fields, while every farmer lad too appears to scud before it ... to country fairs and cattle-shows, to that Rome among the villages where the treasures of the year are gathered.
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist. A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers (1849), in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 1, p. 358, Houghton Mifflin (1906).
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