Thoreau, Thoreau and Thoreau.

So much to read, so much to share.  Not being American, I have been ignorant too long of this inspiration of a man.  Living his life as closely to his principles as is possible, his writings went on to inspire Martin Luther King, Gandhi, and Tolstoy. His works are readily available to read online, and full biography too.  Enjoy my chosen excerpts here.

‘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.’

Henry David Thoreau, Walden“Where I Lived, and What I Lived For”



“We can never have enough of nature. We must be refreshed by the sight of inexhaustible vigor, vast and Titanic features, the sea-coast with its wrecks, the wilderness with its living and its decaying trees, the thunder cloud, and the rain which lasts three weeks and produces freshets. We need to witness our own limits transgressed, and some life pasturing freely where we never wander.”


“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. I would drink deeper; fish in the sky, whose bottom is pebbly with stars. I cannot count one. I know not the first letter of the alphabet. I have always been regretting that I was not as wise as the day I was born. The intellect is a cleaver; it discerns and rifts its way into the secret of things. I do not wish to be any more busy with my hands than is necessary. My head is hands and feet. I feel all my best faculties concentrated in it. My instinct tells me that my head is an organ for burrowing, as some creatures use their snout and fore paws, and with it I would mine and burrow my way through these hills. I think that the richest vein is somewhere hereabouts.”


March 6, 1838 .
How can a man sit down and quietly
pare his nails, while the earth goes gyrating ahead amid such a din of sphere
music, whirling him along about her
axis some twenty-four thousand miles
between sun and sun, but mainly in a circle some two millions of miles actual
progress ? And then such a hurly-burly
on the surface, — wind always blowing,
now a zephyr, now a hurricane; tides
never idle, ever fluctuating; no rest for
Niagara, but perpetual ran-tan on those
limestone rocks; and then that summer
simmering which our ears are used to,
which would otherwise be christened
confusion worse confounded, but is now
ironically called “silence audible ;” and,
above all, the incessant tinkering named
“hum of industry,” the hurrying to and
fro and confused jabbering of men. Can
man do less than get up and shake himself ?


Sources :


3 thoughts on “Thoreau, Thoreau and Thoreau.

  1. Pingback: Why All this Talk of Companionship? « Pilgrim Outskirts

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