Henry David Thoreau
 

from Walden (1854)

“However mean your life is, meet it and live it; do not shun it and call it hard names. … The setting sun is reflected from the windows of the almshouse as brightly as from the rich man's abode; the snow melts before its door as early in the spring.”

“Drive a nail home and clinch it so faithfully that you can wake up in the night and think of your work with satisfaction … Every nail driven should be as another rivet in the machine of the universe, you carrying on the work.”

“Things do not change; we change. Sell your clothes and keep your thoughts.”

“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.”

“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. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.”

I left the woods for as good a reason as I went there. Perhaps it seemed to me that I had several more lives to live, and could not spare any more time for that one.

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.”

from Walking (1862)

I believe that there is a subtle magnetism in Nature, which, if we unconsciously yield to it, will direct us aright.

Life consists with wildness. The most alive is the wildest. Not yet subdued to man, its presence refreshes him.

In short, all good things are wild and free.

Give me for my friends and neighbors wild men, not tame ones.

A man’s ignorance sometimes is not only useful, but beautiful--while his knowledge, so called, is oftentimes worse than useless, besides being ugly.

There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamed of in our philosophy.

Above all, we cannot afford not to live in the present. He is blessed over all mortals who loses no moment of the passing life in remembering the past.

We had a remarkable sunset one day last November. … When we reflected that this was not a solitary phenomenon, never to happen again, but that it would happen forever and ever, an infinite number of evenings, and cheer and reassure the latest child that walked there, it was more glorious still.

So we saunter toward the Holy Land, till one day the sun shall shine more brightly than ever he has done, shall perchance shine into our minds and hearts, and light up our whole lives with a great awakening light, as warm and serene and golden as on a bankside in autumn.