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Henry David Thoreau (Writer)

I am a parcel of vain strivings tied By abond together, Dangling this way and that, their links Were made so loose and wide, Methinks, For milder weather.
Henry David Thoreau think
But now I see I was not plucked for naught, And after in life's vase Of glass set while I might survive, But by a kind hand brought Alive To a strange place.
Henry David Thoreau life
Talk of mysteries! — Think of our life in nature, — daily to be shown matter, to come in contact with it, — rocks, trees, wind on our cheeks!
Henry David Thoreau life
Great , I ask thee for no meaner pelf Than that I may not disappoint myself, That in my action I may soar as high As I can now discern with this clear eye.
Henry David Thoreau action
MyI'd fain cast off, I cannot read, 'Twixt every page my thoughts go stray at large Down in the meadow, where is richer feed, And will not mind to hit their proper targe.
Henry David Thoreau mind
Here while I lie beneath this walnut bough, What care I for the Greeks or for Troy town, If juster battles are enacted now Between the ants upon this hummock's crown?
Henry David Thoreau lie
Talk of mysteries! — Think of ourin , — daily to be shown matter, to come in contact with it, — rocks, trees, wind on our cheeks! The solid earth! the actual ! the common ! Contact! Contact! Who are we? where are we?
Henry David Thoreau art
It is not enough to be industrious; so are the ants. What are you industrious about?
Henry David Thoreau you
Thewill never make men ; it is men who have got to make the law free.
Henry David Thoreau men
Theof the country does not depend on how you vote at the polls — the worst man is as strong as the best at that game; it does not depend on what kind of paper you drop into the ballot-box once a year, but on what kind of man you drop from your chamber into the street every morning.
Henry David Thoreau man
If a man believes and expects great things of himself, it makes no odds where you put him, or what you show him ... he will be surrounded by grandeur.
Henry David Thoreau self
Let me suggest a theme for you: to state to yourself precisely and completely what that walk over the mountains amounted to for you, — returning to this essay again and again, until you are satisfied that all that was important in your experience is in it. Give this good reason to yourself for having gone over the mountains, for mankind is ever going over a mountain. Don't suppose that you can tell it precisely the first dozen times you try, but at 'em again, especially when, after a sufficient pause, you suspect that you are touching the heart or summit of the matter, reiterate your blows there, and account for the mountain to yourself. Not that the story need be long, but it will take a long while to make it short.
Henry David Thoreau time
Men and boys are learning all kinds of trades but how to make men of themselves. They learn to make houses; but they are not so well housed, they are not so contented in their houses, as the woodchucks in their holes. What is the use of a house if you haven't got a tolerable planet to put it on? — If you cannot tolerate the planet that it is on? Grade the ground first. If a man believes and expects great things of himself, it makes no odds where you put him, or what you show him ... he will be surrounded by grandeur. He is in the condition of a healthy and hungry man, who says to himself, — How sweet this crust is!
Henry David Thoreau men
You ask particularly after my . I suppose that I have not many months to live; but, of course, I know nothing about it. I may add that I am enjoying existence as much as ever, and regret nothing.
Henry David Thoreau art
My life is like a stroll upon the beach, As near the ocean's edge as I can go.
Henry David Thoreau life
Whate'er we leave to , God does And blesses us.
Henry David Thoreau hate
I hear beyond the range of sound, I see beyond the range of sight, New earths and skies and seas around, And in my day the sun doth pale his light.
Henry David Thoreau art
She with one breath attunes the spheres, And also my poor human heart.
Henry David Thoreau art
The life that I aspire to live No man proposeth me— No trade upon the street Wears its emblazonry.
Henry David Thoreau life
Agives you the body, not the .
Henry David Thoreau body
To listen with one ear to each summer sound, to behold with one eye each summer scene, our visual rays so to meet and mingle with the object as to be one bent and doubled...
Henry David Thoreau summer
, ,— those celestial thrins, Continually are born; e'en now the , With thousand throats, and eke with greener smiles, Itsconfesses at their recent .
Henry David Thoreau smile
Sphere Music — Some sounds seem to reverberate along the plain, and then settle to earth again like dust; such are Noise, Discord, Jargon. But such only as spring heavenward, and I may catch from steeples and hilltops in their upward course, which are the more refined parts of the former, are the true sphere music — pure, unmixed music — in which no wail mingles.
Henry David Thoreau war
Thatwe appreciate is as much ours as another's. We see so much only as we possess.
Henry David Thoreau
You might as well think to go in pursuit of the , and embrace it on the next hill, as to embrace the whole ofeven in .
Henry David Thoreau think
— No definition of poetry is adequate unless it be poetry itself. The most accurate analysis by the rarest wisdom is yet insufficient, and the poet will instantly prove it false by setting aside its requisitions. It is indeed all that we do not know. The poet does not need to see how meadows are something else than earth, grass, and water, but how they are thus much. He does not need discover that potato blows are as beautiful as violets, as the farmer thinks, but only how good potato blows are. The poem is drawn out from under the feet of the poet, his whole weight has rested on this ground. It has a logic more severe than the 's. You might as well think to go in pursuit of the , and embrace it on the next hill, as to embrace the whole of poetry even in .
Henry David Thoreau wisdom
had a clear eye for the commonest things. Hiswas only an enlarged . He adverts with chaste severity to all natural facts. His sublimity is Greek sincerity and simpleness, naked wonder whichhad not helped to explain... Whatever the common eye sees at all and expresses as best it may, he sees uncommonly and describes with rare completeness. The multitude that thronged the theatre could no doubt go along with him to the end... The social condition of genius is the same in all ages. Aeschylus was undoubtedly alone and without sympathy in his simple reverence for the mystery of the universe.
Henry David Thoreau mystery
On the death of a friend, we should consider that the fates through confidence have devolved on us the task of a double living, that we have henceforth to fulfill the promise of our friend's life also, in our own, to the world.
Henry David Thoreau life
An early morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.
Henry David Thoreau sin
Our life revolves unceasingly, but the centre is ever the same, and the wise will regard only the seasons of the soul.
Henry David Thoreau life
Have no mean hours, but be grateful for every hour, and accept what it brings. The reality will make any sincere record respectable. No day will have been wholly misspent, if one sincere, thoughtful page has been written. Let the daily tide leave some deposit on these pages, as it leaves sand and shells on the shore. So much increase of terra firma. this may be a calendar of the ebbs and flows of the soul; and on these sheets as a beach, the waves may cast up pearls and seaweed.
Henry David Thoreau reality
Who looks in the sun will see no light else; but also he will see no shadow. Our life revolves unceasingly, but the centre is ever the same, and the wise will regard only the seasons of the soul.
Henry David Thoreau life
We are as much as we see. Faith is sight and knowledge. The hands only serve the eyes.
Henry David Thoreau knowledge
The Indian...stands free and unconstrained in Nature, is her inhabitant and not her guest, and wears her easily and gracefully. But the civilized man has the habits of the house. His house is a prison.
Henry David Thoreau grace
For many years I was self-appointed inspector of snowstorms and rainstorms, and did my duty faithfully, though I never received one cent for it.
Henry David Thoreau faith
It is a great art to saunter.
Henry David Thoreau art
A slight sound at evening lifts me up by the ears, and makes life seem inexpressibly serene and grand. It may be Uranus, or it may be in the shutter.
Henry David Thoreau life
We are apt to imagine that this hubbub of Philosophy, Literature, and Religion, which is heard in pulpits, lyceums, and parlors, vibrates through the universe, and is as catholic a sound as the creaking of the earth's axle. But if a man sleeps soundly, he will forget it all between sunset and dawn.
Henry David Thoreau art
Nothing is so much to be feared as fear. Atheism may comparatively be popular with God himself.
Henry David Thoreau fear
One cannot too soon forget his errors and misdemeanors. To dwell long upon them is to add to the offense. Repentance and sorrow can only be displaced by something better, which is as free and original as if they had not been.
Henry David Thoreau sorrow
And the cost of a thing it will be remembered as the amount of life it requires to be exchanged for it.
Henry David Thoreau life
Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.
Henry David Thoreau liberty
Men go to afor entertainment. When I see how eagerly men will run to a fire, whether in warm or in cold weather, by day or by night, dragging an engine at their heels, I'm astonished to perceive how good a purpose the level of excitement is made to serve.
Henry David Thoreau war
And now, at half-past ten o'clock, I hear the cockerels crow in Hubbard's barns, and morning is already anticipated. It is the feathered, wakeful thought in us that anticipates the following day.
Henry David Thoreau past
The bluebird carries the sky on his back.
Henry David Thoreau sky
How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.
Henry David Thoreau live
Nothing is so much to be feared as .may comparatively be popular withhimself.
Henry David Thoreau fear
The perception ofis a moral test.
Henry David Thoreau perception
The youth gets together his materials to build a bridge to the moon, or, perchance, a palace or temple on the earth, and, at length, the middle-aged man concludes to build a woodshed with them.
Henry David Thoreau art
is full of , full of the divinity; so that not a snowflake escapes its fashioning hand.
Henry David Thoreau fashion
Every poet has trembled on the verge of science.
Henry David Thoreau science
is the most tolerable third party.
Henry David Thoreau art
Some circumstantial evidence is very strong, as when you find a trout in the milk.
Henry David Thoreau you
That man is richest whose pleasures are the cheapest.
Henry David Thoreau man
Nature is full of genius, full of the divinity; so that not a snowflake escapes its fashioning hand.
Henry David Thoreau fashion
The same law that shapes the earth-star shapes the snow-star. As surely as the petals of a flower are fixed, each of these countless snow-stars comes whirling to earth...these glorious spangles, the sweeping of heaven's floor.
Henry David Thoreau art
This bird sees the white man come and the Indian withdraw, but it withdraws not. Its untamed voice is still heard above the tinkling of the forge... It remains to remind us of aboriginal nature.
Henry David Thoreau nature
It is in vain to dream of a wildness distant from ourselves.
Henry David Thoreau dream
Any fool can make a rule And any fool will mind it.
Henry David Thoreau mind
If you are describing any occurrence... make two or more distinct reports at different times... We discriminate at first only a few features, and we need to reconsider our experience from many points of view and in various moods in order to perceive the whole.
Henry David Thoreau time
The commonest and cheapest sounds, as the barking of a dog, produce the same effect on fresh and healthy ears that the rarest music does. It depends on your appetite for sound. Just as a crust is sweeter to a healthy appetite than confectionery to a pampered or diseased one.
Henry David Thoreau music
You must love the crust of the earth on which you dwell more than the sweet crust of any bread or cake; you must be able to extract nutriment out of a sand heap.
Henry David Thoreau love
The savage in man is never quite eradicated.
Henry David Thoreau man
Anycan make aAnd any fool will mind it.
Henry David Thoreau mind
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 art
If a thousand [citizens] were not to pay their tax-bills this year, that would not be a violent and bloody measure, as it would be to pay them, and enable the State to commit violence and shed innocent blood. This is, in fact, the definition of a peaceable revolution, if any such is possible.
Henry David Thoreau peace
The soldier is applauded who refuses to serve in an unjust war by those who do not refuse to sustain the unjust government which makes the war; is applauded by those whose own act and authority he disregards and sets at naught; as if the state were penitent to that degree that it hired one to scourge it while it sinned, but not to that degree that it left off sinning for a moment.
Henry David Thoreau war
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. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I believe — "That government is best which governs not at all"; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have.
Henry David Thoreau art
A government in which the majority rule in all cases cannot be based on justice, even as far as men understand it...
Henry David Thoreau men
How does it become a man to behave toward this American government today? I answered that he cannot without disgrace be associated with it.
Henry David Thoreau war
When a sixth of the population of a nation which has undertaken to be the refuge of liberty are slaves, and a whole country is unjustly overrun and conquered by a foreign army, and subjected to military law, I think that it is not too soon for honest men to rebel and revolutionize. What makes this duty the more urgent is the fact that the country so overrun is not our own, but ours is the invading army.
Henry David Thoreau men
Any man more right than his neighbors constitutes a majority of one.
Henry David Thoreau man
He who gives himself entirely to his fellow-men appears to them useless and selfish; but he who gives himself partially to them is pronounced a benefactor and philanthropist.
Henry David Thoreau art
Unjust laws exist: shall we be content to obey them, or shall we endeavor to amend them, and obey them until we have succeeded, or shall we transgress them at once?
Henry David Thoreau men
I came into this world, not chiefly to make this a good place to live in, but to live in it, be it good or bad.
Henry David Thoreau world
Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison... the only house in a slave State in which a free man can abide with honor.
Henry David Thoreau men
I saw that the State was half-witted, that it was timid as a lone woman with her silver spoons, and that it did not know its friends from its foes, and I lost all my remaining respect for it, and pitied it.
Henry David Thoreau friends
There will never be a really free and enlightened State until the State comes to recognize the individual as a higher and independent power, from which all its own power and authority are derived, and treats him accordingly.
Henry David Thoreau power
I am as desirous of being a good neighbor as I am of being a bad subject.
Henry David Thoreau good
They who know of no purer sources of truth, who have traced up its stream no higher, stand, and wisely stand, by the Bible and the Constitution, and drink at it there with reverence and humility; but they who behold where it comes trickling into this lake or that pool, gird up their loins once more, and continue their pilgrimage toward its fountain-head.
Henry David Thoreau truth
No man with a genius for legislation has appeared in America. They are rare in the history of the world. There are orators, politicians, and eloquent men, by the thousand; but the speaker has not yet opened his mouth to speak who is capable of settling the much-vexed questions of the day.
Henry David Thoreau history
For eighteen hundred years, though perchance I have no right to say it, the New Testament has been written; yet where is the legislator who has wisdom and practical talent enough to avail himself of the light which it sheds on the science of legislation?
Henry David Thoreau wisdom
A State which bore this kind of fruit, and suffered it to drop off as fast as it ripened, would prepare the way for a still more perfect and glorious State, which also I have imagined, but not yet anywhere seen.
Henry David Thoreau perfect
A very few, as heroes, patriots, martyrs, reformers in the great sense, and men, serve the State with their consciences also, and so necessarily resist it for the most part; and they are commonly treated by it as enemies.
Henry David Thoreau science
The progress from an absolute to a limited monarchy, from a limited monarchy to a democracy, is a progress toward a true respect for the individual.
Henry David Thoreau war
We do not ride on the railroad; it rides upon us.
Henry David Thoreau
The rich man... is always sold to the institution which makes him rich.
Henry David Thoreau man
Gradually the village murmur subsided, and we seemed to be embarked on the placid current of our dreams, floating from past to future as silently as one awakes to fresh morning or evening thoughts.
Henry David Thoreau dreams
To some extent, mythology is only the most ancient history and biography. So far from being false or fabulous in the common sense, it contains only enduring and essential truth...
Henry David Thoreau truth
To some extent,is only the most ancient history and biography. So far from being false or fabulous in the common sense, it contains only enduring and essential truth, the I and you, the here and there, the now and then, being omitted. Either time or rare wisdom writes it. Before printing was discovered, a century was equal to a thousand years. The poet is he who can write some pure mythology to-day without the aid of posterity
Henry David Thoreau truth
In the mythus a superhuman intelligence uses the unconscious thoughts and dreams of men as its hieroglyphics to address men unborn.
Henry David Thoreau intelligence
As we passed under the last bridge over the canal, just before reaching the Merrimack, the people coming out of church paused to look at us from above, and apparently, so strong is custom, indulged in some heathenish comparisons; but we were the truest observers of this sunny day
Henry David Thoreau people
You can hardly convince a man of an error in a lifetime, but must content yourself with the reflection that the progress of science is slow. If he is not convinced, his grandchildren may be.
Henry David Thoreau life
The great god Pan is not dead, as was rumored. No god ever dies. Perhaps of all the gods of New England and of ancient Greece, I am most constant at his shrine.
Henry David Thoreau god
I am not sure but I should betake myself in extremities to the liberal divinities of Greece, rather than to my country's God. , though with us he has acquired new attributes, is more absolute and unapproachable, but hardly more divine, than . He is not so much of a gentleman, not so gracious and catholic, he does not exert so intimate and genial an influence on nature, as many a god of the Greeks.
Henry David Thoreau god
The Grecian are youthful and erring and fallen gods, with the vices of men, but in many important respects essentially of the divine race. In my Pantheon,still reigns in his pristine glory, with his ruddy face, his flowing beard, and his shaggy body, his pipe and his crook, his nymph Echo, and his chosen daughter Iambe; for the great god Pan is not dead, as was rumored. No god ever dies. Perhaps of all the gods of New England and of ancient Greece, I am most constant at his shrine.
Henry David Thoreau god
It seems to me that the god that is commonly worshipped in civilized countries is not at all divine, though he bears a divine name, but is the overwhelming authority and respectability of mankind combined. Men reverence one another, not yet God. If I thought that I could speak with discrimination and impartiality of the nations of Christendom, I should praise them, but it tasks me too much. They seem to be the most civil and humane, but I may be mistaken.
Henry David Thoreau god
There are various, nay, incredible faiths; why should we be alarmed at any of them? What man believes, God believes.
Henry David Thoreau faith
I trust that some may be as near and dear to , or , or , who are without the pale of their churches. It is necessary not to be Christian to appreciate the beauty and significance of the life of Christ. I know that some will have hard thoughts of me, when they hear their Christ named beside my Buddha, yet I am sure that I am willing they should love their Christ more than my Buddha, for the love is the main thing, and I like him too.
Henry David Thoreau love
The wisest man preaches no doctrines; he has no scheme; he sees no rafter, not even a cobweb, against the heavens. It is clear sky. If I ever see more clearly at one time than at another, the medium through which I see is clearer.
Henry David Thoreau time

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