Henry David Thoreau Quotes That Will Change Your Life

Henry David Thoreau was an American naturalist, essayist, poet, and philosopher. Here we have shared Henry David Thoreau quotes on happiness, nature, simplify, Walden, civil disobedience, inspirational, and motivational.

Henry David Thoreau was born on July 12, 1817, in Concord, Massachusetts, United States, and died on May 6, 1862, in Concord, Massachusetts, United States.

Henry David Thoreau quotes

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

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

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

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

Our life is frittered away by detail… simplify, simplify. — Henry David Thoreau

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

henry david thoreau quotes
Things do not change; we change. — Henry David Thoreau

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

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

Make the most of your regrets; never smother your sorrow, but tend and cherish it till it comes to have a separate and integral interest. To regret deeply is to live afresh. — Henry David Thoreau

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

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

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

henry david thoreau quotes
The language of friendship is not words but meanings. — Henry David Thoreau

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

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

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

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

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

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. — Henry David Thoreau

henry david thoreau quotes
This world is but a canvas to our imagination. — Henry David Thoreau

Friends… they cherish one another’s hoped. They are kind to one another’s dreams. — Henry David Thoreau

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

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

Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me the truth. — Henry David Thoreau

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

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

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

Groucho Marx Quotes

George Washington Quotes On Leadership

George Carlin Quotes

henry david thoreau quotes
Never look back unless you are planning to go that way. — Henry David Thoreau

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

I say, beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes. — Henry David Thoreau

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

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

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

The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it. — 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 lawyer’s truth is not Truth, but consistency or a consistent expediency. — Henry David Thoreau

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

henry david thoreau quotes
Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake. — Henry David Thoreau

Thaw with her gentle persuasion is more powerful than Thor with his hammer. The one melts the other breaks into pieces. — Henry David Thoreau

It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right. — Henry David Thoreau

While civilization has been improving our houses, it has not equally improved the men who are to inhabit them. It has created palaces, but it was not so easy to create noblemen and kings. — Henry David Thoreau

It is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things. — Henry David Thoreau

Every day or two, I strolled to the village to hear some of the gossips which is incessantly going on there, circulating either from mouth to mouth, or from newspaper to newspaper, and which, taken in homeopathic doses, was really as refreshing in its way as the rustle of leaves and the peeping of frogs. — Henry David Thoreau

Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison. — Henry David Thoreau

Faith keeps many doubts about her pay. If I could not doubt, I should not believe it. — Henry David Thoreau

henry david thoreau quotes
Any fool can make a rule, and any fool will mind it. — Henry David Thoreau

We are not what we are, nor do we treat or esteem each other for such, but for what we are capable of being. — Henry David Thoreau

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. — Henry David Thoreau

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

To have done anything just for money is to have been truly idle. — Henry David Thoreau

We are eager to tunnel under the Atlantic and bring the Old World some weeks nearer to the New, but perchance the first news that will leak through into the broad, flapping American ear will be that Princess Adelaide has whooping cough. — Henry David Thoreau

Do not be too moral. You may cheat yourself out of much life so. — Henry David Thoreau

‘Tis healthy to be sick sometimes. — Henry David Thoreau

I have found that no exertion of the legs can bring two minds much nearer to one another. — Henry David Thoreau

henry david thoreau quotes
There is no remedy for love but to love more. — Henry David Thoreau

True friendship can afford true knowledge. It does not depend on darkness and ignorance. — Henry David Thoreau

It is what a man thinks of himself that really determines his fate. — Henry David Thoreau

Some are reputed sick and some are not. It often happens that the sicker man is the nurse to the sounder. — Henry David Thoreau

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

All this worldly wisdom was once the unamiable heresy of some wise man. — Henry David Thoreau

Do not trouble yourself much to get new things, whether clothes or friends… Sell your clothes and keep your thoughts. — Henry David Thoreau

henry david thoreau quotes
Be not simply good – be good for something. — Henry David Thoreau

How could youths better learn to live than by at once trying the experiment of living? — Henry David Thoreau

If I seem to boast more than is becoming, my excuse is that I brag for humanity rather than for myself. — Henry David Thoreau

There is always a present and extant life, be it better or worse, which all combine to uphold. — Henry David Thoreau

If you can speak what you will never hear, if you can write what you will never read, you have done rare things. — Henry David Thoreau

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

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

The heart is forever inexperienced. — Henry David Thoreau

Books are to be distinguished by the grandeur of their topics even more than by the manner in which they are treated. — Henry David Thoreau

henry david thoreau quotes
Money is not required to buy one necessity of the soul. — Henry David Thoreau

Every generation laughs at the old fashions but follows religiously the new. — Henry David Thoreau

In my afternoon walk, I would fain forget all my morning occupations and my obligations to society. — Henry David Thoreau

It is usually the imagination that is wounded first, rather than the heart; it being much more sensitive. — Henry David Thoreau

We are all sculptors and painters, and our material is our own flesh and blood and bones. Any nobleness begins at once to refine a man’s features, any meanness or sensuality to imbrute them. — Henry David Thoreau

I am sorry to think that you do not get a man’s most effective criticism until you provoke him. Severe truth is expressed with some bitterness. — Henry David Thoreau

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

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. — Henry David Thoreau

It is not part of a true culture to tame tigers, any more than it is to make sheep ferocious. — Henry David Thoreau

An unclean person is universally a slothful one. — Henry David Thoreau

Generally speaking, a howling wilderness does not howl: it is the imagination of the traveler that does the howling. — Henry David Thoreau

Instead of noblemen, let us have noble villages of men. — Henry David Thoreau

henry david thoreau quotes
It is never too late to give up our prejudices. — Henry David Thoreau

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

I put a piece of paper under my pillow, and when I could not sleep I wrote in the dark. — Henry David Thoreau

That man is rich whose pleasures are the cheapest. — Henry David Thoreau

I have thought there was some advantage even in death, by which we mingle with the herd of common men. — Henry David Thoreau

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

Nay, be a Columbus to whole new continents and worlds within you, opening new channels, not of trade, but of thought. — Henry David Thoreau

To a philosopher all news, as it is called, is gossip, and they who edit and read it are old women over their tea. — Henry David Thoreau

To be awake is to be alive. — Henry David Thoreau

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. — 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

The perception of beauty is a moral test. — Henry David Thoreau

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

Shall I not have intelligence with the earth? Am I not partly leaves and vegetable mold myself. — Henry David Thoreau

I think that there is nothing, not even crime, more opposed to poetry, to philosophy, ay, to life itself than this incessant business. — Henry David Thoreau

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. — Henry David Thoreau

Alas! how little does the memory of these human inhabitants enhance the beauty of the landscape! — Henry David Thoreau

I have the habit of attention to such excess, that my senses get no rest – but suffer from a constant strain. — Henry David Thoreau

The law will never make a man free; it is men who have got to make the law free. — Henry David Thoreau

What old people say you cannot do, you try and find that you can. Old deeds for old people, and new deeds for new. — Henry David Thoreau

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

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

There is no odor so bad as that which arises from goodness tainted. — Henry David Thoreau

So thoroughly and sincerely are we compelled to live, reverencing our life, and denying the possibility of change. This is the only way, we say; but there are as many ways as there can be drawn radii from one center. All change is a miracle to contemplate, but it is a miracle that is taking place every instant. — Henry David Thoreau

Books can only reveal us to ourselves, and as often as they do us this service we lay them aside. — Henry David Thoreau

All men are children and one family. The same tale sends them all to bed and wakes them in the morning. — Henry David Thoreau

Every people have gods to suit their circumstances. — Henry David Thoreau

We shall see but a little way if we require to understand what we see. — Henry David Thoreau

There is a danger that we lose sight of what our friend is absolute while considering what she is to us alone. — Henry David Thoreau

Our houses are such unwieldy property that we are often imprisoned rather than housed by them. — Henry David Thoreau

It is the greatest of all advantages to enjoy no advantage at all. — Henry David Thoreau

The fibers of all things have their tension and are strained like the strings of an instrument. — Henry David Thoreau

The youth gets together his materials to build a bridge to the moon, or, perchance, a palace or temple on the earth, and, at length, the middle-aged man concludes to build a woodshed with them. — Henry David Thoreau

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

They can do without architecture who have no olives nor wines in the cellar. — Henry David Thoreau

I cannot read a single word of the Hindoos without being elevated. — Henry David Thoreau

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

In the meanest are all the materials of manhood, only they are not rightly disposed of. — Henry David Thoreau

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

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

The finest workers in stone are not copper or steel tools, but the gentle touches of air and water working at their leisure with a liberal allowance of time. — Henry David Thoreau

I have a great deal of company in the house, especially in the morning when nobody calls. — Henry David Thoreau

The man who is dissatisfied with himself, what can he do? — 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

What is once well done is done forever. — Henry David Thoreau

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

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

Those whom we can love, we can hate; to others we are indifferent. — Henry David Thoreau

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

Nature puts no question and answers none which we mortals ask. She has long ago taken her resolution. — Henry David Thoreau

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

Front yards are not made to walk in, but, at most, though, and you could go in a back way. — Henry David Thoreau

If it is surely the means to the highest end we know, can any work be humble or disgusting? Will, it is not rather elevating as a ladder, the means by which we are translated? — Henry David Thoreau

How many things there are concerning which we might well deliberate whether we had better know them. — Henry David Thoreau

There will never be a really free and enlightened State until the State comes to recognize the individual as a higher and independent power, from which all its own power and authority are derived, and treats him accordingly. — Henry David Thoreau

If a man constantly aspires is he not elevated? — Henry David Thoreau

Every man casts a shadow; not his body only, but his imperfectly mingled spirit. This is his grief. Let him turn which way he will, it falls opposite to the sun; short at noon, long at eve. Did you never see it? — Henry David Thoreau

If you would convince a man that he does wrong, do right. Men will believe what they see. — Henry David Thoreau

I was more independent than any farmer in Concord, for I was not anchored to a house or farm, but could follow the bent of my genius, which is a very crooked one, every moment. — Henry David Thoreau

The savage in man is never quite eradicated. — Henry David Thoreau

Old deeds for old people, and new deeds for new. — Henry David Thoreau

Before printing was discovered, a century was equal to a thousand years. — Henry David Thoreau

Truth is always in harmony with herself and is not concerned chiefly to reveal the justice that may consist of wrong-doing. — Henry David Thoreau

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

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

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

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

How can any man be weak who dares to be at all? — Henry David Thoreau

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

What is called genius is the abundance of life and health. — Henry David Thoreau

It is best to avoid the beginnings of evil. — Henry David Thoreau

Faith never makes a confession. — 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

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

There never was and is not likely soon to be a nation of philosophers, nor am I certain it is desirable that there should be. — Henry David Thoreau

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

After the first blush of sin comes to its indifference. — Henry David Thoreau

A man cannot be said to succeed in this life who does not satisfy one friend. — Henry David Thoreau

If a man walks 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 days as a speculator, shearing off those woods and making the earth bald before her time, he is deemed an industrious and enterprising citizen. — Henry David Thoreau

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. — Henry David Thoreau

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

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

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. — Henry David Thoreau

As in geology, so in social institutions, we may discover the causes of all past changes in the present invariable order of society. — Henry David Thoreau

The bluebird carries the sky on his back. — Henry David Thoreau

The night is certainly more novel and less profane than the day. — Henry David Thoreau

God reigns when we take a liberal view when a liberal view is presented to us. — Henry David Thoreau

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

The language of excitement is at best picturesque merely. You must be calm before you can utter oracles. — Henry David Thoreau

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

Dreams are the touchstones of our character. — Henry David Thoreau

The rarest quality in an epitaph is truth. — Henry David Thoreau

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

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

In human intercourse the tragedy begins, not when there is a misunderstanding about words, but when silence is not understood. — Henry David Thoreau

I often visited a particular plant four or five miles distant, half a dozen times within a fortnight, that I might know exactly when it opened. — Henry David Thoreau

Thank God men cannot fly, and lay waste the sky as well as the earth. — Henry David Thoreau

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

The only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think right. — Henry David Thoreau

We know but a few men, a great many coats and breeches. — Henry David Thoreau

May we so love as never to have occasion to repent of our love! — Henry David Thoreau

I have always been regretting that I was not as wise as the day I was born. — Henry David Thoreau

Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in. — Henry David Thoreau

A man’s interest in a single bluebird is worth more than a complete but dry list of the fauna and flora of a town. — Henry David Thoreau

Aim above morality. Be not simply good, be good for something. — Henry David Thoreau

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. — Henry David Thoreau

I have seen how the foundations of the world are laid, and I have not the least doubt that it will stand a good while. — Henry David Thoreau

Why should we be in such desperate haste to succeed, and in such desperate enterprises? If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. — Henry David Thoreau

Do what nobody else can do for you. Omit to do anything else. — Henry David Thoreau

It appears to be a law that you cannot have a deep sympathy with both man and nature. — Henry David Thoreau

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

The squirrel that you kill in jest, dies in earnest. — Henry David Thoreau

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

Simplify, simplify. — Henry David Thoreau

It is too late to be studying Hebrew; it is more important to understand even the slang of today. — Henry David Thoreau

Great men, unknown to their generation, have their fame among the great who have preceded them, and all true worldly fame subsides from their high estimate beyond the stars. — Henry David Thoreau

Being in a great explainer. — Henry David Thoreau

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

Is the babe young? When I behold it, it seems more venerable than the oldest man. — Henry David Thoreau

There is but one stage for the peasant and the actor. — Henry David Thoreau

Nothing goes by luck in composition. It allows no tricks. The best you can write will be the best you are. — Henry David Thoreau

How does it become a man to behave towards the American government today? I answer, that he cannot without disgrace be associated with it. — Henry David Thoreau

I have been as sincere a worshipper of Aurora as the Greeks. — Henry David Thoreau

Through our own recovered innocence, we discern the innocence of our neighbors. — Henry David Thoreau

Ignorance and bungling with love are better than wisdom and skill without. — Henry David Thoreau

It is remarkable how closely the history of the apple tree is connected with that of man. — Henry David Thoreau

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

If misery loves company, misery has company enough. — Henry David Thoreau

The life which men praise and regard as successful is but one kind. Why should we exaggerate any one kind at the expense of the others? — Henry David Thoreau

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

Live the life you’ve dreamed of. — Henry David Thoreau

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

Justice is sweet and musical, but injustice is harsh and discordant. — Henry David Thoreau

We are always paid for our suspicion by finding what we suspect. — Henry David Thoreau

How sweet is the perception of a new natural fact! — Henry David Thoreau

I have found that hollow, which even I had relied on for solid. — Henry David Thoreau

There is no more fatal blunderer than he who consumes the greater part of his life getting his living. — Henry David Thoreau

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

No face which we can give to a matter will stead us so well at last as the truth. This alone wears well. — Henry David Thoreau

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

Men have a respect for scholarship and learning greatly out of proportion to the use they commonly serve. — Henry David Thoreau

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

I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual. — Henry David Thoreau

Where there are an observatory and a telescope, we expect that any eyes will see new worlds at once. — Henry David Thoreau

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. — Henry David Thoreau

Truths and roses have thorns about them. — Henry David Thoreau

There is no rule more invariable than that we are paid for our suspicions by finding what we suspect. — Henry David Thoreau

The smallest seed of faith is better than the largest fruit of happiness. — Henry David Thoreau

It is only when we forget all our learning that we begin to know. — Henry David Thoreau

There is no just and serene criticism as yet. — Henry David Thoreau

It is an interesting question how far men would retain their relative rank if they were divested of their clothes. — Henry David Thoreau

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

Our moments of inspiration are not lost though we have no particular poem to show for them; for those experiences have left an indelible impression, and we are ever and anon reminded of them. — Henry David Thoreau

There is more of good nature than of good sense at the bottom of most marriages. — Henry David Thoreau

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. — Henry David Thoreau

If you like Henry David Thoreau quotes please feel free to share this inspirational quotes with your friends.