Henry David Thoreau Quotations

Henry David Thoreau

A man may be very industrious, and yet not spend his time well. There is no more fatal blunderer than he who consumes the greater part of life getting his living.

Any fool can make a rule, and every fool will mind it.

Be not simply good; be good for something.

Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes.

Even the best things are not equal to their fame.

Every creature is better alive than dead, men and moose and pine trees, and he who understands it aright will rather preserve its life than destroy it.

Every generation laughs at the old fashions but religiously follows the new.

Faith keeps many doubts in her pay. If I could not doubt, I should not believe.

How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book.

How often we find ourselves turning our backs on our actual friends, that we may go and meet their ideal cousins.

If I knew for a certainty that a man was coming to my house with the conscious design of doing me good, I should run for my life.

If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with success unexpected in common hours.

If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put foundations under them.

I have no doubt that it is a part of the destiny of the human race, in its gradual improvement, to leave off eating animals, as surely as the savage tribes have left off eating each other when they came in contact with the more civilized.

I hear many condemn these men because they were so few. When were the good and the brave ever in a majority?

It is not enough to be busy; the question is: what are we busy about?

I went to the store the other day to buy a bolt for our front door, for, as I told the storekeeper, the Governor was coming here. Aye, said he, and the Legislature too. Then I will take two bolts, said I.

Many go fishing all their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.

Men have become the tools of their tools.

One man lies in his words and gets a bad reputation: another in his manners and enjoys a good one.

Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity!

Our moments of inspiration are not lost though we have no particular poem to show for them; for those experiences have left an indelible impression, and we are ever and anon reminded of them.

Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them all.

Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.

Superfluous wealth can buy superfluities only.

The greatest compliment that was ever paid me was when one asked me what I thought, and attended to my answer.

The man who goes alone can start today; but he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready.

The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation ... A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind.

There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the roots.

There are now-a-days professors of philosophy but not philosophers.

The smallest seed of faith is better than the largest fruit of happiness.

True friendship can afford true knowledge. It does not depend on darkness and ignorance.

We are always paid for our suspicions by finding what we suspect.

We must walk consciously only part way toward our goal, and then leap in the dark to our success.

When I hear music, I fear no danger. I am invulnerable. I see no foe. I am related to the earliest times, and to the latest.

You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land, there is no other life but this.

You must not only aim aright, but draw the bow with all your might.