So, I have been fond of Thoreau`s writing since my senior year in high school. It was the first time I had read something in an English Lit class that struck me, hit a chord. Since then, whenever I travel for long periods of time, I always bring with me a copy of Walden, his most memorable work. While I was living in Senegal with the Peace Corps, I would often open it in my hut when I had finished all the other books I had brought from the regional house library and read a few pages or a chapter but I had yet to sit down and actually read Walden cover to cover. When we were packing for our South American adventure, I of course threw in my pack once again a small copy of Walden & Civil Disobedience and recently had the patience and time to sit, read, and let it sink in and oh has it. I have a tendency while reading to use a pen to mark passages or quotations that I find stirring to the soul and Thoreau is a pro at putting those types of passages down on paper. I wanted to take a few minutes to share some of the remarkable series of words puzzled together to form something, well, transcendental.
The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. -Economy
But I would say to my fellows, once and for all, as long as possible live free and uncommitted. It makes but little difference whether you are committed to a farm or the county jail.
-Where I Lived and What I Lived For
I desire that there may be as many different persons in the world as possible; but I would have each one be very careful to find out and pursue his own way, and not his father`s or his mother`s or his neighbor`s instead. The youth may build or plant or sail, only let him not be hindered from doing that which he tells me he would like to do. It is by a mathematical point only that we are wise, as the sailor or the fugitive slave keeps the polestar in his eye; but that is sufficient guidance for all our life. We may not arrive at our port within a calculable period, but we would preserve the true course... -Economy
...for a man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone. -Where I Lived and What I Lived For
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. -Where I Lived and What I Lived For
And not til we are completely lost, or turned around - for a man needs only to be turned around once with his eyes shut in this world to be lost - do we appreciate the vastness and strangeness of Nature. Every man has to learn to points of the compass again as often as he awakes whether from sleep or any abstraction. Not til we are lost, in other words, not til we have lost the world, do we begin to find ourselves, and realize where we are and the infinite extent of our relations. -The Village
The wind which passed over my dwelling were such as sweep over the ridges of mountains, bearing the broken strains, or cellestial parts only, of terrestrial music. The morning wind forever blows, the poem of creation is uninterrupted, but few are the ears that hear it.
The morning, which is the most memorable season of the day, is the awakening hour.
Morning is when I am awake and there is a dawn in me.
The millions are awake enough for physical labor; but only one in a million is awake enough for effective intellectual exertion, only one in a hundred million to a poetic or divine life. To be awake is to be alive. I have never met a man who was quite awake. How could I have looked him in the face?
It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make a few objects beautiful; but it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look, which morally we can do. To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts.
Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity!
No wonder that Alexander carried the Illiad with him on his expeditions in a precious casket. A written word is the choicest of relics. It is something at once more intimate with us and more universal than any other work of art. It is the work of art nearest to life itself. It may be translated into every language, and not only read but actually breathed from all human lips; not be represented on canvas or marble only, but be carved out of the breath of life itself. The symbol of an ancient man`s thought becomes a modern man`s speech. Two thousand summers have imparted to the momuments of Grecian litereature as to her marbles, only a maturer golden and autumnal tint, for they have carried their own serene and celestial atmosphere into all lands to pretect them against the corrosions of time. Books are the treasured weath of the world and the fit inheritence of generations and nations. Books, the oldest and the best, stand natually and rightfully on the shelves of every cottage. They have no cause of their own to plead, but while they enlighten and sustain the reader his common sense will not refuse them. -Reading
I am convinced, that if all men were to live as simply as I then did, theiving and robbery would be unknown. These take place only in communities where some have got more than is sufficient while others have not enough.
The fruits do not yield their true flavor to the purchaser of them, nor to him who raises them for the market. There is but one way to obtain it, yet few take that way. If you would know the flavor of huckleberries, ask the cowboy or the partridge. It is a vulgar error to suppose that you have tasted huckleberries who never plucked them. -The Ponds
A lake is the landscape`s most beautiful and expressive feature. It is Earth`s eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature. The fluviatile trees next to the shore are the slender eyelashes which fringe it, and the wooded hills and cliffs around are the overhanging brows.
What I have observed of the pond is no less true in ethics. It is the law of average. Such a rule of the two diameters not only guides us towards the sun in the system and the heart in men, but draw lines through the length and breadth of the aggregate of a man`s particular daily behaviors and waves of life into his coves and inlets, and where they intersect will be the height or depth of his character. Perhaps we need only to know how his shores trend and his adjacent country or circumstances, to infer his depth and concealed bottom. - The Pond in Winter
We should be blessed if we live in the present always, and took advantage of every accident that befell us, like the grass which confesses the influence of the slightest dew that falls on it; and did not spend our time in atoning for the neglect of pat opportunities, which we call doing our duty. -Spring
If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endevours to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a sucess unexpected in common hours. He will put some things behind, will pass an invisible boundary, new, universal, and more liberal laws will begin to establish themselves around and within him; or the old laws be expanded, and interpreted in his favor in a more liberal sense, and he will live with the license of a higher order of beings. In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness. - Conclusion
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.
However mean your life is, meet it and live it; do not shun it and call it hard names. It is not so bad as you are. It looks poorest when you are richest. The fault finder will find faults even in paradise. Love you life, poor as it is. You may perhaps have some pleaant, thrilling, glorious hours, even in a poor house. 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.
It is life near the bone where it is sweetest.
Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.
Everyone has heard the story which has gone the rounds of New England, of a strong and beautiful bug which came out of the dry leaf of an old table of apple tree wood, which had stood in a farmer`s kitchen for sixty years, first in Connecticut and afterwards in Massechusetts - from an egg deposited in the living tree many years earlier still, as appeared by counting the annual layers beyond it; which was heard gnawing out for several weeks, hatched perchance by the heat of an urn. Who does not feel his faith in a ressurection and immortality strengthened by hearing this? Who knows what beautiful and winged life, whose egg has been buried for ages under many concentric layers of woodeness in the dead dry life of society, deposited first in the alburnum of the green and living tree, which has been gradually converted into the semblance of its well seasoned tomb - heard perchance gnawing out now for years by the astonished family of man, as they sat round the festive board - may unexpectedly come forth from amidst society`s most trivial and handselled furniture, to enjoy its perfect summer life at last! -Conclusions