80 + Henry David Thoreau Quotes That Made Him Great

Henry David Thoreau

Looking for Henry David Thoreau Quotes? You’ve come to the right place. We’ve compiled a few quotes on nature, love, happiness, self-reliance, success etc so you can easily navigate to exactly what you want. Our table of content below will guide you.

Who is Henry Thoreau?

Henry David Thoreau was an American philosopher, naturalist, and writer born on July 12, 1817, and best known for his book Walden. He was also an ardent abolitionist and one of the founders of the transcendentalist movement.

Now that you know a little about Henry David Thoreau and what he had to offer, let’s tap straight away into his mind of wisdom.

Henry David Thoreau Quotes Nature

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

~ Henry David Thoreau

“Thank God men cannot fly, and lay waste the sky as well as the earth.”

~ Henry David Thoreau

“Nature will bear the closest inspection. She invites us to lay our eye level with her smallest leaf, and take an insect view of its plain.”

~ Henry David Thoreau

“The Artist is he who detects and applies the law from observation of the works of Genius, whether of man or Nature. The Artisan is he who merely applies the rules which others have detected.”

~ Henry David Thoreau

“I did not wish to take a cabin passage, but rather to go before the mast and on the deck of the world, for there I could best see the moonlight amid the mountains. I do not wish to go below now.”

~ Henry David Thoreau

Thoreau quotes nature

Henry David Thoreau Quotes
Quotes by Henry David Thoreau

Related: 80+ Famous Audrey Hepburn Quotes Life is a Party

“I have a room all to myself; it is nature.”

~ Henry David Thoreau

“There is never enough nature for us. The sight of unending vitality, gigantic and Titanic-like characteristics, the seashore with its wrecks, the wildness with its thriving and dying trees, the thundercloud, and the three-week-long rain that results in freshets must renew us. We need to see people stepping outside of their own comfort zones and living freely in places we never do.”

~ Henry David Thoreau

“Wildness is the preservation of the World.”

~ Henry David Thoreau

“I went to the woods because I wanted to live deliberately, to face just the core truths of life, to see if I couldn’t learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, to realize that I hadn’t lived.”

~ Henry David Thoreau

“I admire Nature in part because she is not man, but rather a refuge from him.” None of his institutions has power over her. There, a new type of right reigns supreme. I can be completely happy in her presence. If this world were all made up of men, I would be unable to expand myself and would lose all hope. He represents limitation, whereas she represents freedom. He makes me want to live in another universe. She makes me happy with this.”

~ Henry David Thoreau

“I am concerned when I travel a mile into the woods physically but do not arrive in spirit.”

~ Henry David Thoreau
Henry David Thoreau Quotes
Walden quotes. Henry David Thoreau quotes nature

“The peaks of mountains are among the unfinished regions of the world, where climbing and prying into their mysteries, and testing their influence on our humanity, is a little affront to the gods.” Only courageous and arrogant men might venture there.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

“The spruce and cedar on its beaches, draped with grey lichens, appeared like tree ghosts from a distance.” Ducks were sailing about on its surface, and a lone loon, like a more lively wave — an important place on the lake’s surface — laughed and frolicked, and showed us its straight leg.”

~ Henry David Thoreau

“Nature puts no question and answers none which we mortals ask. She has long ago taken her resolution.”

~ Henry David Thoreau

“What is the use of a house if you haven’t got a tolerable planet to put it on?”

~ Henry David Thoreau

“Nature and human life are as various as our several constitutions. Who shall say what prospect life offers to another?”

~ Henry David Thoreau

Quotes in Walden

Henry David Thoreau Quotes
Thoreau quote

Thorough quotes

“It appears to be a law that you cannot have a deep sympathy with both man and nature.”

“The bluebird carries the sky on his back.”

“There are certain pursuits which, if not wholly poetic and true, do at least suggest a nobler and finer relation to nature than we know. The keeping of bees, for instance.”

“There is more of good nature than of good sense at the bottom of most marriages.”

“The teenager gathers his materials to build a bridge to the moon or even a palace or temple on Earth, and the middle-aged man finally decides to build a woodshed with them.”

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

“What is human warfare but just this; an effort to make the laws of God and nature take sides with one party.”

“To be admitted to Nature’s hearth costs nothing. None is excluded but excludes himself. You have only to push aside the curtain.”

Henry David Thoreau Quotes

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Henry David Thoreau Quotes Love

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

“Pursue some path, however narrow and crooked, in which you can walk with love and reverence.”

“May we so love as never to have occasion to repent of our love!”

“Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me the truth.”

“Ignorance and bungling with love are better than wisdom and skill without.”

“There is no remedy for love but to love more.”

Henry David Thoreau Quotes
Quotes by Thoreau

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

“I love you not as something private and personal, which is my own, but as something universal and worthy of love which I have found.”

“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.”

“Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake.”

“If misery loves company, misery has company enough.”

“A farmer, a hunter, a soldier, a reporter, even a philosopher, may be daunted; but nothing can deter a poet, for he is actuated by pure love. Who can predict his comings and goings? His business calls him out at all hours, even when doctors sleep.”

“The only way to speak the truth is to speak lovingly.”

“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.”

“Between whom there is hearty truth there is love.”

Henry David Thoreau Quotes
Quotes from Henry David Thoreau

“The heart is forever inexperienced.”

“Dreams are the touchstones of our character.”

“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.”

“In a world of peace and love, music would be the universal language.”

“Love must be as much a light as it is a flame.”

“What is the use of a house if you haven’t got a tolerable planet to put it on?”

“Friends… they cherish one another’s hopes. They are kind to one another’s dreams.”

“Pursue some path, however narrow and crooked, in which you can walk with love and reverence.”

“Do not hire a man who does your work for money, but him who does it for the love of it.”

Quotes from Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Quotes
Quotes Thoreau

“It is strange to talk of miracles, revelations, inspiration, and the like, as things past, while love remains.”

“I found in myself, and still find, an instinct toward a higher, or, as it is named, spiritual life, as do most men, and another toward a primitive rank and savage one, and I reverence them both. I love the wild not less than the good.”

“Your religion is where you love is.”

“There is only one path to Heaven. On Earth, we call it Love.”

Quotes on Happiness

Get the best of Henry David Thoreau’s quotes on happiness.

“Happiness is like a butterfly, the more you chase it, the more it will evade you, but if you notice the other things around you, it will gently come and sit on your shoulder.”

“The biggest happiness is when at the end of the year your feel better than at the beginning.”

“The most I can do for my friend is simply be his friend.”

“What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lives within us.”

“Things do not change; we change.”

“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.”

“I come to my solitary woodland walk as the homesick go home. I thus dispose of the superfluous and see things as they are, grand and beautiful.”

“It is what a man thinks of himself that really determines his fate.”

“Remember that the smallest seed of faith is of more worth than the largest fruit of happiness.”

“Man is the artificer of his own happiness.”

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

“The most I can do for my friend is simply to be his friend. I have no wealth to bestow on him. If he knows that I am happy in loving him, he will want no other reward. Is not friendship divine in this?”

“My greatest skill has been to want but little.”

“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.”

“We are made happy when reason can discover no occasion for it. The memory of some past moments is more persuasive than the experience of present ones. There have been visions of such breadth and brightness that these motes were invisible in their light.”

“What wisdom, what warning can prevail against gladness? There is no law so strong that a little gladness may not transgress.”

“Those undeserved joys which come uncalled and make us more pleased than grateful are they that sing.”

“I am too easily contented with a slight and almost animal happiness. My happiness is a good deal like that of the woodchucks.”

“I do not know what right I have to so much happiness, but rather hold it in reserve till the time of my desert.”

“The true harvest of my daily life is somewhat as intangible and indescribable as the tints of morning or evening.”

Henry David Thoreau Sayings Self-Reliance

“We commonly do not remember that it is, after all, always the first person that is speaking.”

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately.”

“In most books, the I, of first person, is omitted; in this, it will be retained; that, in respect to egotism, is the main difference.”

“I should not talk so much about myself if there were anybody else whom I knew as well.”

Self-reliance quotes by Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Sayings Self-Reliance

Henry David Thoreau Sayings on Individualism

“A name pronounced is the recognition of the individual to whom it belongs. He who can pronounce my name aright, he can call me, and is entitled to my love and service.”

“Is it not possible that an individual may be right and a government wrong? Are laws to be enforced simply because they were made? Or declared by any number of men to be good, if they are NOT good?”

“The orator puts off his individuality and is then most eloquent when most silent. He listens while he speaks, and is a hearer along with his audience.”

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

“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.”

David Thoreau Quotes Success

“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.”

“I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by conscious endeavour.”

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

“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

“It is what a man thinks of himself that really determines his fate.”

“The secret of achievement is to hold a picture of a successful outcome in mind.”

“A man cannot be said to succeed in this life who does not satisfy one friend.”

Henry David Thoreau Quotes

“In the long run, you hit only what you aim at.”

“The truly effective worker won’t fill their days with work but rather would stroll to their duty surrounded by a large halo of ease and relaxation.”

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

“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.”

“Men are born to succeed, not to fail.”

“What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lives within us.”

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

“The finding procedure is extremely straightforward. The unwearied and systematic application of established rules to nature reveals the unknown. Almost any form of observation will be effective in the end because what is most desired is the procedure.”

“As for doing good; that is one of the professions which is full. Moreover, I have tried it fairly and, strange as it may seem, am satisfied that it does not agree with my constitution.”

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

“We must walk consciously only part way toward our goal, and then leap in the dark to our success. What we do best or most perfectly is what we have most thoroughly learned by the longest practice, and at length, it falls from us without our notice, as a leaf from a tree.”

“For it matters not how small the beginning may seem to be: what is once well done is done forever.”

“All health and success does me good, however far off and withdrawn it may appear; all disease and failure helps to make me sad and does me evil, however much sympathy it may have with me or I with it.”

~ Henry David Thoreau

“The life without men praise and regard as successful is but one kind. Why should we exaggerate any one kind at the expense of the others?”

“Every man’s success is in proportion to his average ability. A man is not his hope, nor his despair, nor yet his past deed. We know not yet what we have done, still less what we are doing. Wait till evening, and other parts of our day’s work will shine more than we had thought at noon. and we shall discover the real purport of our toil.”

“Undoubtedly, in the most brilliant successes, the first rank is always sacrificed.”

“Yet we must try the harder, the less the prospect of success.”

“You fail in your thoughts, or you prevail in your thoughts only.”

Henry David Thoreau Quotes
Thoreau quotes nature

Henry’s Quotes on Life

“It is better to have your head in the clouds, and know where you are… than to breathe the clearer atmosphere below them, and think that you are in paradise.”

“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.”

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

“Live your life, do your work, then take your hat.”

“To be awake is to be alive.”

“How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.”

“There is always a present and extant life, be it better or worse, which all combine to uphold.”

“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.”

“Never look back unless you are planning to go that way.”

“Things do not change; we change.”

“I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by conscious endeavour.”

“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.”

“Dwell as near as possible to the channel in which your life flows.”

“If an injustice requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law. Let your life be a counter-friction to stop the government machine.”

“This world is but a canvas to our imagination.”

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.”

“Wealth is the ability to fully experience life.”

“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.”

“The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.”

“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.”

“Live in each season as it passes: breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit.”

“None are so old as those who have outlived enthusiasm.”

“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.”

“No adult person, past the impressionable age of a child, will indiscriminately kill any creature that depends on him for its survival.”

“It is never too late to give up our prejudices.”

“How could youths better learn to live than by at once trying the experiment of living?”

“There are old heads in the world who cannot help me by their example or advice to live worthily and satisfactorily to myself, but I believe that it is in my power to elevate myself this very hour above the common level of my life.”

“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.”

“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.”

“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavours to live the life which he has imagined…”

“Our life is frittered away by detail… simplify, simplify.”

“Sweep away the clutter of things that complicate our lives.”

“There is no more fatal blunderer than he who consumes the greater part of his life getting his living.”

“Shall I not have intelligence with the earth? Am I not partly leaves and vegetable mould myself.”

“The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.”

Henry David Thoreau Quotes

“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.”

“Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake.”

“Live the life you’ve dreamed.”

“Nothing goes by luck in composition. It allows for no tricks. The best you can write will be the best you are.”

“A broad margin of leisure is as beautiful in a man’s life as in a book. Haste makes waste, no less in life than in housekeeping. Keep the time, observe the hours of the universe, not of the cars.”

“I have learned, that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavours to live the life he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”

“Live your beliefs and you can turn the world around.”

Henry David Thoreau Quotes12

“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.”

“I think that there is nothing, not even crime, more opposed to poetry, to philosophy, ay, to life itself than this incessant business.”

“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.”

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

Henry David Thoreau Quotes13

What does Henry David Thoreau quote mean?

Henry David Thoreau Quote: “If one wants to live a happy life, let him chase after happiness.”
This is a great quote from Henry David Thoreau. He is saying that if you want to be happy, you should chase after happiness. He is saying that if you want to be happy, you should not wait for things to happen, you should go out and find it.

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