Thoreau Quotes

Thoreau's works are so packed with quotable lines, especially
in Walden, that there is probably no way to create a definitive list.

Thoreau Reader:  Home - Walden

But these would be a good start...

"Age is no better, hardly so well, qualified for an instructor as youth, for it has not profited so much as it has lost. One may almost doubt if the wisest man has learned anything of absolute value by living." - Walden

"A man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone." - Walden

"As if you could kill time without injuring eternity." - Walden

"Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes." - Walden

"Hope and the future for me are not in lawns and cultivated fields, not in towns and cities, but in the impervious and quaking swamps." - "Walking"

"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

"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." - Walden

"I have a great deal of company in my house; especially in the morning, when nobody calls." - Walden

"I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by a conscious endeavor." - Walden

"I learned this, at least, by my experiment; that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours." - Walden

"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 future, which is precisely the present moment; to toe that line." - Walden

"I should not talk so much about myself if there were anybody else whom I knew as well. Unfortunately, I am confined to this theme by the narrowness of my experience." - Walden

"It is never too late to give up your prejudices." - Walden

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

"However mean your life is, meet it and live it; do not shun it and call it hard names." - Walden

"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." - Walden

"No way of thinking or doing, however ancient, can be trusted without proof. What everybody echoes or in silence passes by as true today may turn out to be falsehood tomorrow, mere smoke of opinion, which some had trusted for a cloud that would sprinkle fertilizing rain on their fields." - Walden

"Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth." - Walden

"Simplify, simplify." - also: "Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity!" - Walden

"The fact which the politician faces is merely that there is less honor among thieves than was supposed, and not the fact that they are thieves."' - "Slavery in Massachusetts"

"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." - Walden

"The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation." - Walden

"There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root." - Walden

"The universe is wider than our views of it." - Walden

"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." - Walden

"Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison." - "Civil Disobedience"

"What old people say you cannot do, you try and find that you can. Old deeds for old people, and new deeds for new." - Walden

Thoreau Reader:  Home - Walden