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Henry David Thoreau’s Quotes

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

 

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.

 

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

 

All this worldly wisdom was once the unamiable heresy of some wise man.

 

It is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things.

 

It’s not what you look at that matters it’s what you see.

 

The lawyer’s truth is not Truth but consistency or a consistent expediency.

 

The rarest quality in an epitaph is truth.

 

It takes two to speak the truth: one to speak and another to hear.

 

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.

 

The bluebird carries the sky on his back.

 

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

 

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.

 

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

 

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.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.

 

It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law so much as for the right.

 

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.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in.

 

As if you could kill time without injuring eternity.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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

 

It takes two to speak the truth: one to speak and another to hear.

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