88 Henry David Thoreau Quotes about Nature, People and Society:


1. “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.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


2. “Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


3. “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


4. “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.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


5. “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.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


6. “I find it wholesome to be alone the greater part of the time. To be in company, even with the best, is soon wearisome and dissipating. I love to be alone. I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU

7. “It’s the beauty within us that makes it possible for us to recognize the beauty around us. The question is not what you look at but what you see.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


8. “Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


9. “Things do not change; we change.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU



10. “The cost of a thing is the amount of what I will call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


11. “All men want, not something to do with, but something to do, or rather something to be.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


12. “In the long run you hit only what you aim at. Therefore, though you should fail immediately, you had better aim at something high.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


13. “We must walk consciously only part way toward our goal, and then leap in the dark to our success.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


14. “Be true to your work, your word, and your friend.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


15. “It is characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


16. “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.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


17. “I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by conscious endeavor.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


18. “Our truest life is when we are in our dreams awake.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


19. “This world is but a canvas to our imagination.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


20. “Do what you love. Know you own bone; gnaw at it, bury it, unearth it, and gnaw it still.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


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21. “Make the most of your regrets; never smother your sorrow, but tend and cherish it till it comes to have a separate and integral interest. To regret deeply is to live afresh.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


22. “How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


23. “I had three chairs in my house; one for solitude, two for friendship, three for society.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


24. “As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


25. “Many go fishing all their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


26. “There is no remedy for love but to love more.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


27. “So behave that the odor of your actions may enhance the general sweetness of the atmosphere, that when we behold or scent a flower, we may not be reminded how inconsistent your deeds are with it; for all odor is but one form of advertisement of a moral quality, and if fair actions had not been performed, the lily would not smell sweet. The foul slime stands for the sloth and vice of man, the decay of humanity; the fragrant flower that springs from it, for the purity and courage which are immortal.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


28. “Wealth is the ability to fully experience life.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


29. “Nature is full of genius, full of the divinity; so that not a snowflake escapes its fashioning hand.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


30. “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 richest. The fault-finder will find faults even in paradise. Love your life, poor as it is. You may perhaps have some pleasant, thrilling, glorious hours, even in a poorhouse. The setting sun is reflected from the windows of the almshouse as brightly as from the rich man’s abode; the snow melts before its door as early in the spring. I do not see but a quiet mind may live as contentedly there, and have as cheering thoughts, as in a palace.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


31. “If we will be quiet and ready enough, we shall find compensation in every disappointment.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


32. “Never look back unless you are planning to go that way.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU



33. “Dreams are the touchstones of our characters.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


34. “There is no value in life except what you choose to place upon it and no happiness in any place except what you bring to it yourself.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


35. “Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


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


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


38. “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.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


39. “Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


40. “A single gentle rain makes the grass many shades greener. So our prospects brighten on the influx of better thoughts. We should be blessed if we lived in the present always, and took advantage of every accident that befell us.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


41. “Be yourself- not your idea of what you think somebody else’s idea of yourself should be.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


42. “We do not enjoy poetry unless we know it to be poetry.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


43. “Books are the treasured wealth of the world and the fit inheritance of generations and nations.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


44. “You must not only aim right, but draw the bow with all your might.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


45. “On tops of mountains, as everywhere to hopeful souls, it is always morning.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


46. “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation. From the desperate city you go into the desperate country, and have to console yourself with the bravery of minks and muskrats. A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind. There is no play in them, for this comes after work. But it is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


47. “Love must be as much a light as it is a flame.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


48. “Public opinion is a weak tyrant compared with our own private opinion. What a man thinks of himself, that it is which determines, or rather indicates, his fate.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


49. “Simplify your life. Don’t waste the years struggling for things that are unimportant. Don’t burden yourself with possessions. Keep your needs and wants simple and enjoy what you have. Don’t destroy your peace of mind by looking back, worrying about the past. Live in the present. Simplify!” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


50. “A man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


51. “We are constantly invited to be what we are.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU



52. “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, however measured or far away.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


53. “Do not lose hold of your dreams or aspirations. For if you do, you may still exist but you have ceased to live.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


54. “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.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


55. “Men have become the tools of their tools.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


56. “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.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


57. “The path of least resistance leads to crooked rivers and crooked men.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


58. “The intellect of most men is barren. They neither fertilize or are fertilized. It is the marriage of the soul with nature that makes the intellect fruitful, that gives birth to imagination…without nature-awakened imagination most persons do not really live in the world, they merely pass through it as they live dull lives of quiet desperation.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


59. “We are all sculptors and painters, and our material is our own flesh and blood and bone.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


60. “Nothing makes the earth seem so spacious as to have friends at a distance; they make the latitudes and longitudes.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


61. “To have done anything just for money is to have been truly idle.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


62. “In any weather, at any hour of the day or night, I have been anxious to improve the nick of time, and notch it on my stick too; to stand on the meeting of two eternities, the past and the future, which is precisely the present moment; to toe that line.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


63. “I love Nature partly because she is not man, but a retreat from him. None of his institutions control or pervade her. There a different kind of right prevails. In her midst I can be glad with an entire gladness. If this world were all man, I could not stretch myself, I should lose all hope. He is constraint, she is freedom to me. He makes me wish for another world. She makes me content with this.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


64. “The soul grows by subtraction, not addition.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


65. “I heartily accept the motto, “That government is best which governs least”; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


66. “The only people who ever get anyplace interesting are the people who get lost.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


67. “For more than five years I maintained myself thus solely by the labour of my hands, and I found, that by working about six weeks in a year, I could meet all the expenses of living.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


68. “We need the tonic of wildness…At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


69. “Time is like a handful of sand – the tighter you grasp it, the faster it runs through your fingers.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


70. “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.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


71. “If a man walk 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 whole day as a speculator, shearing off those woods and making earth bald before her time, he is esteemed an industrious and enterprising citizen. As if a town had no interest in its forests but to cut them down.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


72. It is only when we forget all our learning that we begin to know. — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


73. “As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


74. “I am a happy camper so I guess I’m doing something right. Happiness is like a butterfly; the more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


75. “All this worldly wisdom was once the amiable heresy of some wise man.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


76. “The most difficult thing to understand during conversation is silence.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU



77. “The only way to speak the truth is to speak lovingly.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


78. “I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual. It is surprising how contented one can be with nothing definite – only a sense of existence. Well, anything for variety. I am ready to try this for the next ten thousand years, and exhaust it. How sweet to think of! my extremities well charred, and my intellectual part too, so that there is no danger of worm or rot for a long while. My breath is sweet to me. O how I laugh when I think of my vague indefinite riches. No run on my bank can drain it, for my wealth is not possession but enjoyment.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


79. “Do not despair of your life. You have force enough to overcome your obstacles.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


80. “Nothing can be more useful to you than a determination not to be hurried.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


81.  “One is wise to cultivate the tree that bears fruit in our soul.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


82. “What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lives within us.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


83. “Not till we are lost, in other words not till we have lost the world, do we begin to find ourselves, and realize where we are and the infinite extent of our relations.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


84. “It is never too late to give up your prejudices.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


85. “To be a philosopher is not merely to have subtle thoughts, nor 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.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


86. “When we bring what is within out into the world, miracles happen.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


87. “Live your beliefs and you can turn the world around.” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


88. “It is not enough to be industrious; so are the ants. What are you industrious about?” — HENRY DAVID THOREAU


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