Thoreau Quotes

Thoreau Quotes

Henry David Thoreau Nature Quotes

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately.”
“Nothing makes the earth seem so spacious as to have friends at a distance; they make the latitudes and longitudes.”
“I would rather sit on a pumpkin, and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion.”
“If a man walk in the woods for love of them half of each day, he is in danger of being regarded as a loafer; but if he spends his whole day as a speculator, shearing off those woods and making earth bald before her time, he is esteemed an industrious and enterprising citizen. As if a town had no interest in its forests but to cut them down!”
“Every oak tree started out as a couple of nuts who stood their ground.”
“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.”
“Do you know how the naturalist learns all the secrets of the forest, of plants, of birds, of beasts, of reptiles, of fishes, of the rivers and the sea? When he goes into the woods the birds fly before him and he finds none; when he goes to the river bank, the fish and the reptile swim away and leave him alone. His secret is patience; he sits down, and sits still; he is a statue; he is a log.”
“I believe that there is a subtle magnetism in Nature, which, if we unconsciously yield to it, will direct us aright.”
“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.”

Henry David Thoreau Wild Quotes

“All good things are wild and free.”
“A man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone.”
“In wildness is the preservation of the world.”
“We need the tonic of the wilderness, to wade sometimes in the marsh where the bitten and the meadow hen lurk, and hear the booming of the snipe; to smell the whispering sedge where only some wilder and more solitary fowl builds her nest, and the mink crawls with its belly close to the ground.”
“The wilderness is near as well as dear to every man. Even the oldest villages are indebted to the border of wild wood which surrounds them, more than to the gardens of men. There is something indescribably inspiriting and beautiful in the aspect of the forest skirting and occasionally jutting into the midst of new towns, which, like the sand-heaps of fresh fox-burrows, have sprung up in their midst. The very uprightness of the pines and maples asserts the ancient rectitude and vigor of nature. Our lives need the relief of such a background, where the pine flourishes and the jay still screams.”
“It is in vain to dream of a wildness distant from ourselves. There is none such.”
“Life consists with Wildness. The most alive is the wildest. Not yet subdued to man, its presence refreshes him. One who pressed forward incessantly and never rested from his labors, who grew fast and made infinite demands on life, would always find himself in a new country or wilderness, and surrounded by the raw material of life. He would be climbing over the prostrate stems of primitive forest trees.”
“It is a thorough process, this war with the wilderness - breaking nature, taming the soil. feeding it on oats. The civilized man regards the pine tree as his enemy. He will fell it and let in the light, grub it up and raise wheat or rye there. It is no better than a fungus to him.”
“The Library is a wilderness of books.”

Henry David Thoreau Quotes About Simple Life

“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation.”
“Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify.”
“We are happy in proportion to the things we can do without.”
“It is not enough to be industrious; so are the ants. What are you industrious about?”
“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.”
“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 practice 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.”
“Things do not change; we change.”
“Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.”
“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.”
“All men want, not something to do with, but something to do, or rather something to be.”
“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.”
“If we will be quiet and ready enough, we shall find compensation in every disappointment.”
“The question is not what you look at, but what you see.”
“Not till we are completely lost or turned around…do we begin to find ourselves.”
“Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this.”
“Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.”
“How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.”


Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) was a nature writer, environmentalist, essayist, and has motivated so many people to get outside and live more simply. His book Walden is about when he moved into the woods to live more deliberately, to commune with nature and reflect on his lives and the natural world.
He was a huge force that kicked off American thought on environmentalism and nature. He was also an abolitionist, transcendentalist, and big advocate of civil liberties, as shown in his essay Civil Disobedience. He lived the simple life at Walden Pond from 1845-47 where he lived off the land (but in actuality had a lot of help from friends, his mom, and town — which he visited often). He remains an inspiration today for all those wishing to move to a cabin, live closely with nature, and live more simply.

-Isak, Seek More Wilderness

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