All Time Famous Henry David Thoreau Quotes

Henry David Thoreau Quotes

Henry David Thoreau (July 12, 1817 – May 6, 1862) was an American naturalist, essayist, poet, and philosopher. A leading transcendentalist, he is best known for his book Walden, a reflection upon simple living in natural surroundings, and his essay “Civil Disobedience” (originally published as “Resistance to Civil Government”), an argument in favor of citizen disobedience against an unjust state.

Henry David Thoreau, a prolific writer with over 20 volumes of books, essays, articles, journals, and poetry, made enduring contributions to natural history and philosophy. His works anticipated ecological and environmental findings, influencing modern environmentalism. Thoreau’s literary style intertwined keen observations of nature, personal experiences, rhetoric, symbolism, and historical insights with a poetic sensibility and philosophical rigor. He emphasized survival amidst challenges, advocating simplicity and the abandonment of waste. A dedicated abolitionist, Thoreau’s lectures condemned the fugitive slave law, praising abolitionist figures. His philosophy of civil disobedience left a lasting impact, inspiring figures like Tolstoy, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King Jr. Thoreau is occasionally labeled an anarchist, expressing in “Civil Disobedience” a preference for minimal government and a belief in eventually having a government that governs not at all, advocating for a better government when citizens are ready for it.

Henry David Thoreau Quotes

1. “All good things are wild and free.”
— Henry David Thoreau

2. “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined.”
— Henry David Thoreau

3. “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”
— Henry David Thoreau

4. “Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.”
— Henry David Thoreau

5. “Life isn’t about finding yourself; it’s about creating yourself. So live the life you imagined.”
— Henry David Thoreau

6. “Never look back unless you are planning to go that way.”
— Henry David Thoreau

7. “Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify.”
— Henry David Thoreau

8. “Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.”
— Henry David Thoreau

9. “This world is but a canvas for our imagination.”
— Henry David Thoreau

10. “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.”
— Henry David Thoreau

11. “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

12. “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

13. “You cannot dream yourself into a character: you must hammer and forge yourself into one.”
— Henry David Thoreau

14. “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.”
— Henry David Thoreau

15. “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

16. “The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.”
— Henry David Thoreau

17. “How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.”
— Henry David Thoreau

18. “What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lives within us.”
— Henry David Thoreau

19. “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

20. “We are constantly invited to be who we are.”
— Henry David Thoreau

21. “Goodness is the only investment that never fails.”
— Henry David Thoreau

22. “We are born as innocents. We are polluted by advice.”
— Henry David Thoreau

23. “A truly good book teaches me better than to read it. I must soon lay it down, and commence living on its hint. What I began by reading, I must finish by acting.”
— Henry David Thoreau

24. “Think for yourself, or others will think for you without thinking of you.”
— Henry David Thoreau

25. “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

26. “The path of least resistance leads to crooked rivers and crooked men.”
— Henry David Thoreau

27. “An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.”
— Henry David Thoreau

28. “That man is the richest whose pleasures are the cheapest. ”
— Henry David Thoreau

29. “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.”
— Henry David Thoreau

30. “Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.”
— Henry David Thoreau

31. “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

32. “Enthusiasm is a supernatural serenity.”
— Henry David Thoreau

33. “In the long run, men hit only what they aim at. Therefore, they had better aim at something high.”
— Henry David Thoreau

34. “It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?”
— Henry David Thoreau

35. “A lake is a landscape’s most beautiful and expressive feature. It is Earth’s eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature.”
— Henry David Thoreau

36. “Thought is the sculptor who can create the person you want to be.”
— Henry David Thoreau

37. “There is no remedy for love, but to love more.”
— Henry David Thoreau

38. “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation.”
— Henry David Thoreau

39. “My greatest skill in life has been to want but little.”
— Henry David Thoreau

40. “Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all.”
— Henry David Thoreau

41. “Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake.”
— Henry David Thoreau

42. “What’s the use of a fine house if you haven’t got a tolerable planet to put it on?”
— Henry David Thoreau

43. “Write while the heat is in you. The writer who postpones the recording of his thoughts uses an iron which has cooled to burn a hole with. He cannot inflame the minds of his audience.”
— Henry David Thoreau

44. “A man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone.”
— Henry David Thoreau

45. “I make myself rich by making my wants few.”
— Henry David Thoreau

46. “The heart is forever inexperienced.”
— Henry David Thoreau

47. “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

48. “Dreams are the touchstones of our characters.”
— Henry David Thoreau

49. “Do not hire a man who does your work for money, but him who does it for love of it.”
— Henry David Thoreau

50. “When we are unhurried and wise, we perceive that only great and worthy things have any permanent and absolute existence, that petty fears and petty pleasures are but the shadow of the reality.”
— Henry David Thoreau

51. “Simplify, simplify, simplify.”
— Henry David Thoreau

52. “I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by conscious endeavor.”
— Henry David Thoreau

53. “The most I can do for my friend is simply to be his friend.”
— Henry David Thoreau

54. “What sort of philosophers are we, who know absolutely nothing of the origin and destiny of cats?”
— Henry David Thoreau

55. “I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than the trees.”
— Henry David Thoreau

56. “Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant?”
— Henry David Thoreau

57. “As if you could kill time without injuring eternity.”
— Henry David Thoreau

58. “All men want, not something to do with, but something to do, or rather something to be.”
— Henry David Thoreau

59. “It is never too late to give up our prejudices.”
— Henry David Thoreau

60. “There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.”
— Henry David Thoreau

61. “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.”
— Henry David Thoreau

62. “The rule is to carry as little as possible.”
— Henry David Thoreau

63. “The man who goes alone can start today, but he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready.”
— Henry David Thoreau

64. “Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.”
— Henry David Thoreau

65. “Books are the treasured wealth of the world and the fit inheritance of generations and nations.”
— Henry David Thoreau

66. “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

67. “How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book.”
— Henry David Thoreau

68. “Oh to reach the point of death and realize one has not lived at all.”
— Henry David Thoreau

69. “Every morning was a cheerful invitation to make my life of equal simplicity, and I may say innocence, with Nature herself.”
— Henry David Thoreau

70. “Only that day dawns to which we are awake.”
— Henry David Thoreau

71. “I was not designed to be forced. I will breathe after my own fashion. Let us see who is the strongest.”
— Henry David Thoreau

72. “I believe that water is the only drink for a wise man.”
— Henry David Thoreau

73. “In a world of peace and love, music would be the universal language.”
— Henry David Thoreau

74. “Nothing makes the earth seem so spacious as to have friends at a distance; they make the latitudes and longitudes.”
— Henry David Thoreau

75. “I have no doubt that it is part of the destiny of the human race in its gradual improvement, to leave off eating animals.”
— Henry David Thoreau

76. “Blessed are they who never read a newspaper, for they shall see Nature, and through her, God.”
— Henry David Thoreau

77. “That government is best which governs least.”
— Henry David Thoreau

78. “The greatest tragedy in life is to spend your whole life fishing only to discover it was never fish that you were after.”
— Henry David Thoreau

79. “Wealth is the ability to fully experience life.”
— Henry David Thoreau

80. “The biggest happiness is when at the end of the year you feel better than at the beginning.”
— Henry David Thoreau

81. “The light which puts out our eyes is darkness to us. Only that day dawns to which we are awake. There is more day to dawn. The sun is but a morning star.”
— Henry David Thoreau

82. “Methinks that the moment my legs began to move, my thoughts began to flow.”
— Henry David Thoreau

83. “Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.”
— Henry David Thoreau

84. “Do what you love. Know your own bone; gnaw at it, bury it, unearth it, and gnaw it still.”
— Henry David Thoreau

85. “Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.”
— Henry David Thoreau

86. “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

87. “Our inventions are wont to be pretty toys, which distract our attention from serious things. They are but improved means to an unimproved end.”
— Henry David Thoreau

88. “Do not despair of life. Think of the fox, prowling in a winter night to satisfy his hunger. His race survives; I do not believe any of them ever committed suicide.”
— Henry David Thoreau

89. “It often happens that a man develops a deeper love and friendship with his pet cat or dog than he does with most of the other humans in his life.”
— Henry David Thoreau

90. “There are moments when all anxiety and stated toil are becalmed in the infinite leisure and repose of nature.”
— Henry David Thoreau

91. “Things do not change; we change.”
— Henry David Thoreau

92. “Do not suffer your life to be taken by newspapers.”
— Henry David Thoreau

93. “Every child begins the world again.”
— Henry David Thoreau

94. “The sun is but a morning star.”
— Henry David Thoreau

95. “Of what significance are the things you can forget.”
— Henry David Thoreau

96. “To him whose elastic and vigorous thought keeps pace with the sun, the day is a perpetual morning.”
— Henry David Thoreau

97. “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

98. “Let your capital be simplicity and contentment.”
— Henry David Thoreau

99. “When you knock, ask to see God – none of the servants.”
— Henry David Thoreau

100. “A man had better starve at once than lose his innocence in the process of getting his bread.”
— Henry David Thoreau

101. “I do not judge men by anything they can do. Their greatest deed is the impression they make on me.”
— Henry David Thoreau

102. “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

103. “There is no history of how bad became better.”
— Henry David Thoreau

104. “Be true to your work, your word, and your friend.”
— Henry David Thoreau

105. “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

106. “The way you spend Christmas is far more important than how much.”
— Henry David Thoreau

107. “Rise free from care before the dawn and seek adventure. Let the noon find you by other lakes, and the night overtake thee everywhere at home. There are no larger fields than these, no worthier games than may here be played.”
— Henry David Thoreau

108. “Morning Glory is the best name, it always refreshes me to see it.”
— Henry David Thoreau

109. “When it’s time to die, let us not discover that we have never lived.”
— Henry David Thoreau

110. “The soul grows by subtraction, not addition.”
— Henry David Thoreau

111. “The devil finds work for idle hands.”
— Henry David Thoreau

112. “All endeavor calls for the ability to tramp the last mile, shape the last plan, endure the last hour’s toil.”
— Henry David Thoreau

113. “I am grateful for what I have. My thanksgiving is perpetual.”
— Henry David Thoreau

114. “I never found a companion that was so companionable as solitude.”
— Henry David Thoreau

115. “Pursue some path, however narrow and crooked, in which you can walk with love and reverence.”
— Henry David Thoreau

116. “Cultivate poverty like a garden herb, like sage.”
— Henry David Thoreau

117. “Nature is doing her best each moment to make us well. Why, nature is but another name for health.”
— Henry David Thoreau

118. “The question is not what you look at – but how you look, and whether you see.”
— Henry David Thoreau

119. “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

120. “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately…”
— Henry David Thoreau

121. “A man may acquire a taste for wine or brandy, and so lose his love for water, but should we not pity him.”
— Henry David Thoreau

122. “Every blade in the field – Every leaf in the forest – lays down its life in its season as beautifully as it was taken up.”
— Henry David Thoreau

123. “In wildness is the preservation of the world.”
— Henry David Thoreau

124. “Behave so the aroma of your actions may enhance the general sweetness of the atmosphere.”
— Henry David Thoreau

125. “Anyone in a free society where the laws are unjust has an obligation to break the law.”
— Henry David Thoreau

126. “One is not born into the world to do everything but to do something.”
— Henry David Thoreau

127. “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

128. “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

129. “We must walk consciously only part way toward our goal, and then leap in the dark to our success.”
— Henry David Thoreau

130. “Wherever you may seek solitude, men will ferret you out and compel you to belong to their desperate company of Oddfellows.”
— Henry David Thoreau

131. “I would rather sit on a pumpkin and have it all to myself than be crowded on a velvet cushion.”
— Henry David Thoreau

132. “Men have become the tools of their tools.”
— Henry David Thoreau

133. “I have never found a companion that was so companionable as solitude. We are for the most part more lonely when we go abroad among men than when we stay in our chambers. A man thinking or working is always alone, let him be where he will.”
— Henry David Thoreau

134. “To inherit property is not to be born – it is to be still-born, rather.”
— Henry David Thoreau

135. “You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment.”
— Henry David Thoreau

136. “I am struck by the fact that the more slowly trees grow at first, the sounder they are at the core, and I think that the same is true of human beings.”
— Henry David Thoreau

137. “How can we remember our ignorance, which our growth requires, when we are using our knowledge all the time?”
— Henry David Thoreau

138. “You must not only aim right but draw the bow with all your might.”
— Henry David Thoreau

139. “When any real progress is made, we unlearned and learn anew what we thought we knew before.”
— Henry David Thoreau

140. “To be awake is to be alive.”
— Henry David Thoreau

141. “Rise free from care before the dawn, and seek adventures.”
— Henry David Thoreau

142. “I have no time to be in a hurry.”
— Henry David Thoreau

143. “A man’s wealth is measured by what he doesn’t need.”
— Henry David Thoreau

144. “To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts.”
— Henry David Thoreau

145. “The greatest compliment that was ever paid me was when one asked me what I thought, and attended to my answer.”
— Henry David Thoreau

146. “Don’t be afraid that your life will end, be afraid that it will never begin!”
— Henry David Thoreau

147. “The future is too soon the past. So make perseverance your excellence and go confidently in the direction of your dreams.”
— Henry David Thoreau

148. “The morning wind forever blows, the poem of creation is uninterrupted, but few are the ears to hear it.”
— Henry David Thoreau

149. “The fault-finder will find faults even in paradise and thereby miss the joys that recognition of the positives brings.”
— Henry David Thoreau

150. “Winter is the time for study, you know, and the colder it is the more studious we are.”
— Henry David Thoreau

151. “If the machine of government is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law.”
— Henry David Thoreau

152. “Any fool can make a rule, and any fool will mind it.”
— Henry David Thoreau

153. “Every oak tree started out as a couple of nuts who stood their ground.”
— Henry David Thoreau

154. “Live in each season as it passes: breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit.”
— Henry David Thoreau

155. “Do not despair of your life. You have force enough to overcome your obstacles.”
— Henry David Thoreau

156. “The universe is wider than our views of it.”
— Henry David Thoreau

157. “Not only must we be good, but we must also be good for something.”
— Henry David Thoreau

158. “He who owns little is little owned.”
— Henry David Thoreau

159. “If you can’t explain it to a six-year-old, you don’t understand it yourself. Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.”
— Henry David Thoreau

160. “Nothing is so much to be feared as fear.”
— Henry David Thoreau

161. “Live your beliefs and you can turn the world around.”
— Henry David Thoreau

162. “City life is millions of people being lonesome together.”
— Henry David Thoreau

163. “I love nature, I love the landscape because it is so sincere. It never cheats me. It never jests. It is cheerfully, musically earnest. I lie and relie on the earth.”
— Henry David Thoreau

164. “Live your life, do your work, then take your hat.”
— Henry David Thoreau

165. “Let go of the past and go for the future.”
— Henry David Thoreau

166. “Maturity is when all of your mirrors turn into windows.”
— Henry David Thoreau

167. “Haste makes waste, no less in life than in housekeeping.”
— Henry David Thoreau

168. “There is one consolation in being sick, and that is the possibility that you may recover to a better state than you were ever in before.”
— Henry David Thoreau

169. “The language of friendship is not words but meanings.”
— Henry David Thoreau

170. “Though I do not believe that a plant will spring up where no seed has been, I have great faith in a seed. Convince me that you have a seed there, and I am prepared to expect wonders.”
— Henry David Thoreau

171. “Those who work much do not work hard.”
— Henry David Thoreau

172. “I had three chairs in my house; one for solitude, two for friendship, three for society.”
— Henry David Thoreau

173. “Every man looks at his wood-pile with a kind of affection.”
— Henry David Thoreau

174. “The eye is the jewel of the body.”
— Henry David Thoreau

175. “Men spend the best parts of their lives earning money in order to enjoy a questionable liberty during the least valuable part of it.”
— Henry David Thoreau

176. “Read not the Times, read the Eternities.”
— Henry David Thoreau

177. “By my intimacy with nature, I find myself withdrawn from man. My interest in the sun and the moon, in the morning and the evening, compels me to solitude.”
— Henry David Thoreau

178. “We can never have enough of Nature.”
— Henry David Thoreau

179. “What is once well done is done forever.”
— Henry David Thoreau

180. “We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aid, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn.”
— Henry David Thoreau

181. “None are so old as those who have outlived enthusiasm.”
— Henry David Thoreau

182. “Since most of us spend our lives doing ordinary tasks, the most important thing is to carry them out extraordinarily well.”
— Henry David Thoreau

183. “Nothing can be more useful to you than a determination not to be hurried.”
— Henry David Thoreau

184. “If we will be quiet and ready enough, we shall find compensation in every disappointment.”
— Henry David Thoreau

185. “Men are born to succeed, not to fail.”
— Henry David Thoreau

186. “Only he is successful in his business who makes that pursuit which affords him the highest pleasure sustain him.”
— Henry David Thoreau

187. “There is only one path to Heaven. On Earth, we call it Love.”
— Henry David Thoreau

188. “To have made even one person’s life a little better, that is to succeed.”
— Henry David Thoreau

189. “Every man must walk to the beat of his own drummer.”
— Henry David Thoreau

190. “One should be always on the trail of one’s own deepest nature. For it is the fearless living out of your own essential nature that connects you to the Divine.”
— Henry David Thoreau

191. “My profession is to always find God in nature.”
— Henry David Thoreau

192. “The Library is a wilderness of books.”
— Henry David Thoreau

193. “Let nothing come between you and the light.”
— Henry David Thoreau

194. “If I am not I, who will be?”
— Henry David Thoreau

195. “Love must be as much a light as it is a flame.”
— Henry David Thoreau

196. “The secret of achievement is to hold a picture of a successful outcome in mind.”
— Henry David Thoreau

197. “Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in. I drink at it, but while I drink I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is. Its thin current slides away, but eternity remains.”
— Henry David Thoreau

198. “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

199. “It takes two to speak the truth: one to speak, and another to hear.”
— Henry David Thoreau

200. “Men must speak English who can write Sanskrit; they must speak a modern language who write, perchance, an ancient and universal one.”
— Henry David Thoreau

Princess Diana Quotes

All Time Famous Princess Diana Quotes

Princess Diana, born on July 1, 1961, became the Princess of Wales upon her marriage to Prince Charles in 1981. Known for her compassion and humanitarian work, she played a key role in destigmatizing issues like AIDS and mental health. Despite her divorce from Prince Charles in 1996, Diana remained a prominent figure. Tragically, she […]

Read More
Paramahansa Yogananda Quotes

All Time Famous Paramahansa Yogananda Quotes

Paramahansa Yogananda (1893–1952) was an influential Indian yogi and spiritual teacher who introduced Kriya Yoga to the West. Born in 1893 in Gorakhpur, India, he became a disciple of Swami Yukteswar Giri and founded the Self-Realization Fellowship in 1920, aiming to spread teachings on Kriya Yoga and balanced spiritual living. Yogananda traveled to the United […]

Read More
Napoleon Hill Quotes

All Time Famous Napoleon Hill Quotes

Napoleon Hill (1883-1970) was an American self-help author and motivational speaker, best known for his iconic work “Think and Grow Rich,” published in 1937. Born in Wise County, Virginia, Hill overcame numerous challenges throughout his life, including poverty and family instability. He began his career as a journalist before dedicating himself to the study of […]

Read More