Henry David Thoreau

EARTH SPIRIT WISDOM
URL Resources for Henry David Thoreau:

Brief Bio

thoreausociety.org


 

THESE EXTRACTIONS CAME FROM THE JOURNAL

I RECOMMEND YOU GET: "The Heart of THOREAU'S JOURNALS"
Edited by Odell Shepard; Dover, 1961. It is the best selection of journal extractions I have ever found.

"REFLECTIONS AT WALDEN'S POND" by Telluris Cudak: This text at the bottom I have actually put to song in a recording. When I find time to re-record it I will post it.


 

 

This earth which is spread out like a map around me is but the lining of my inmost soul exposed...And I have taken infinite pains to know all its phenomena, thinking that I have here the entire poem, but to my chagrin hear that it is an imperfect copy that I possess, that my ancestors have torn out many of the first leaves and grandest passages, mutilating it. I wish to know an entire heaven and earth. All the great trees, beast, fish, and fowl are gone. The stream, perchance are somewhat shrunk.-Thoreau

Measure your health by your sympathy with morning and spring. If no response…know the morning and spring of your life are past. (OS, 205 full text)

In the society of many men, or in the midst of what is called success, I find my life of no account and my spirits rapidly fall. (2-8-1857)-Thoreau

It appears to be a law that you cannot have a deep sympathy with both man and nature.Those qualities that bring you near to the one estrange you from the other.-Thoreau

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

I am too high-born to be propertied, To be a secondary at control, Or useful serving-man and instrument to any sovereign state throughout the world.— Henry David Thoreau

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

Take long walks in stormy weather or through deep snows in the fields and woods, if you would keep your spirits up. Deal with brute nature. Be cold and hungry and weary.-Henry David Thoreau (The Main Woods, 1846)

Strange that so few ever come to the woods to see how the pine lives and grows and spires, lifting its evergreen arms to the light, - to see its perfect success; but most are content to behold it in the shape of many broad boards brought to market, and deem that its true success! But the pine is no more lumber than man is, and to be made into boards and houses is no more its true and highest use than the truest use of a man is to be cut down and made into manure. There is a higher law affecting our relation to pines as well as to men. A pine cut down, a dead pine, is no more a pine than a dead human carcass is a man. Can he who has discovered only some of the values of whalebone and whale oil be said to have discovered the true use of the whale? Can he who slays the elephant for his ivory be said to have “seen the elephant”? These are petty and accidental uses; just as if a stronger race were to kill us in order to make buttons and flageolets of our bones; for everything may serve a lower as well as a higher use. 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.

Is it the lumberman, then, who is the friend and lover of the pine, stands nearest to it, and understands its nature best? Is it the tanner who has barked it, or he who has boxed it for turpentine, whom posterity will fable to have been changed into a pine at last? No! no! it is the poet; he it is who makes the truest use of the pine, - who does not fondle it with an axe, nor tickle it with a saw, nor stroke it with a plane, - who knows whether its heart is false without cutting into it, - who has not bought the stumpage of the township on which it stands. All the pines shudder and heave a sigh when that man steps on the forest floor. No, it is the poet, who loves them as his own shadow in the air, and lets them stand. I have been into the lumber-yard, and the carpenter’s shop, and the tannery, and the lampblack-factory, and the turpentine clearing; but when at length I saw the tops of the pines waving and reflecting the light at a distance high over all the rest of the forest, I realized that the former were not the highest use of the pine. It is not their bones or hide or tallow that I love most. It is the living spirit of the tree, not its spirit of turpentine, with which I sympathize, and which heals my cuts. It is as immortal as I am, and perchance will go to as high a heaven, there to tower above me still.-Thoreau

"The laws of the universe are not indifferent, but are forever on the side of the most sensitive."- Henry David Thoreau

I feel a little alarmed when it happens that I have walked a mile into the woods bodily, without getting there in spirit. . . . What business have I in the woods, if I am thinking of something out of the woods?-Henry David Thoreau

"Let nothing stand between you and the light...In what concerns you much, do not think you have companions know that you are alone in the world." -Thoreau

"Ah! The world is too much with us, and our whole soul is stained by what it works in, like the dyers hand. A man had better starve at once than lose his innocence in the process of getting his bread." -Thoreau

Fare well my friends, my path inclines to this side of the mountain, yours to that. I see that you will at length disappear all together. For a season my path seems lonely without you. My path grows narrower and steeper, and the night is approaching. Yet I have faith that, in the definite future, new suns will arise, and new plains expand before me, and I trust that I shall there in en-counter pilgrims who bear the same virtues. -Thoreau

The indescrible innocence and benefice of nature- of sun and wind and rain, of summer and winter- such health, such cheer, they afford for ever....shall I not have intelligence with the Earth? Am I not partly leaves and vegetable mold myself? -Thoreau

The poet has made his best roots in his native soil, and of any man is the hardest to transplant. The man who is often thinking that it is better to be somewhere else than where he is excommunicates him self. If a man is rich and strong any where, it must be on his native soil. Here I have been these forty years learning the language of these fields that I may better express myself. If I should travel to the prairies, I should much less understand them, and my past life would serve me but ill to describe them. May a weed herestands for more of life to me than the big trees of California would If I should go there. We only need travel enough to give our intellects an airing. -Thoreau

Business! I think that there is nothing, not even crime, more opposed to poetry, philosophy, ay, to life itself, than this incessant business. There is no more fatal blunder than he who consumes the greater part of his life getting a living. -Thoreau

My journal... I write my prayers in it... and show the scrawl to heaven... I must not live for it, but in it for the gods. -Thoreau

How shall I help myself? By withdrawing into thg garnet, and associating with spiders and mice determined to meet myself face to face sooner or later. Completely silent and attentive I will be this hour, and the next, and for ever. The most positive life that history notices has been a constant retiring out of life, a wiping of one's hands of it ,seeing how mean it is, and having nothing to do with it.

If my world is not sufficient with out thee, my friend, I will wait till it is and then call thee. You shall come to palace, not to an alms house.

The sudden revolutions of these times and this generation have acquired a very exaggerated importance. they do not interest me much, for they are not in harmony with the longer periods of nature. They present in any aspect in which it can be presented to the smallest audience, is always mean. God does not sympathize with popular movements.

"The true poet will ever live aloof from society, wild to it, as the finest singer is the wood thrush, a forest bird." -Thoreau

Associate reverently and as much as you can with loftiest thoughts...Having by chance recorded a few disconnected thoughts and then brought them into juxtaposition, they suggest a whole new field in which it was possible to labor and to think. Thought begat thought. -Thoreau

There is no more greater blunder than he who consumes the greater part of his life getting a living.- Thoreau

I have not been an early riser. Society seems to have invaded and overrun me. I have drank tea and coffee and made myself cheap and vulgar. My days have been all noontides, without sacred mornings and evenings. I desire to rise early henceforth, to associate with those influence is everlasting, to have such dreams and waking thoughts that my diet may not be indifferent to me. -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. With respect to luxuries and comforts, the wisest have ever lived a more simple and meager life than the poor. -Thoreau

I believe that the mind can be permanently profaned by the habit of attending to trivial things... read not the times, read the eternities. -Thoreau

It would give me such joy to know that a friend had come to see me, and yet that pleasure I seldom if ever experience. -Thoreau

Our mines anywhere, when left to themselves, are always thus busily drawing conclusions from false premises. -Thoreau

If you have built castled in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.- Thoreau

When will the world learn that a million men are of no importance compared with one man? -Thoreau

We walk to lakes to see our serenity reflected in them. When we are not serene, we go not to them. -Thoreau

Let the thunder rumble; what if it threaten ruin to farmers' crops? That is not its errand to thee. Take shelter under the cloud, while they flee to carts and sheds. Let not to get a living by thy trade, but thy sport. Enjoy the land, but own it not. Through want and enterprise and faith men are where they are, buying and selling, and spending their lives like serfs...the wisest have ever lived a more simple and meager life than the poor. There is no more fatal blunder than he who consumes...his life getting a living. -Thoreau

When, after feeling dissatisfied with my life, I aspire to something better, am more scrupulous, more reserved and continent, as if expecting somewhat, suddenly I find myself full of life as a nut of meat, am overflowing with a quiet, genial mirthfulness. I think to myself, I must attend to my diet, I must have done with luxuries and devote myself to my muse; I must get up earlier and take a morning walk; so I dam up my stream, and my waters gather to a head, I am frightened with thought. -Thoreau

All perception of truth is the detection of an analogy. We reason from our hands to our heads.-Thoreau

I sometimes seem to myself to owe all my little success, all which men commend me, to my vices. I am perhaps more willful than others and make enormous sacrifices, even others' happiness, it may be to gain my ends. It would seem even as if nothing good could be accomplished without some vice to aid it. -Thoreau

What I want to say is this: in wildness, is the preservation of the world...every tree sends forth its fibers in search of the wild... [and] from this wilder-ness will come the tonics and barks that will brace mankind. -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. -Thoreau

I seem to see somewhat more of my own kith and kin in the lichens on the rocks than in books. It does seem as if mine were a peculiarly wild nature, which so yearns toward all wildness. I know of no redeeming qualities in me but a sincere love for some things [Nature], and when I am reproved I have to fall back onto this ground. This is my argument in reserve for all cases. My love is invulnerable. Meet me on that ground, and you will find me strong. When I am condemned, and condemn myself utterly, I think straightway, "But I rely on my love for some things" Therein I am whole and entire. Therein I am God-propped. -THOREAU
DEC 14, 1841

"The greater part of what my neighbors call good I believe in my soul to be bad, and if I repent of anything, it is very likely to be my good behavior. What demon possessed me that I behaved so well?"- 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. -Thoreau

"There must be the generating force of Love behind every effort that is to be successful"
- 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

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

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

We are enabled to apprehend at all what is sublime and noble only by the perpetual instilling and drenching of the reality that surrounds us.  We can never have enough of nature.
mortality of a pine tree and its prospects for ascending to heaven.”


 

"REFLECTIONS AT WALDEN'S POND" by Telluris Cudak

This text below I have actually put to song in a recording. When I find time to re-record it I will post it:

 

But alone in distant woods...I come to myself, I once more feel myself grandly related, and that cold and solitude are friends of mine. I suppose that this value, in my case, is equivalent to what others get by church-going and prayer. I come to my solitarywoodland walk as the home sick go home. I thus dispose of the superflous and see things as they are, grand and beautiful. I have told many that I walk every day about half the day light, but I think they do not believe it. I wish to get the Concord, the Massachusetts, the America out of my head and be sane apart of every day. I wish to forget a considerable part of every day, all mean, narrow, trivial men...It is as if I always meet in those places some grand, serene, immortal, infinitely encouraging, though invisible companion, and walked with him. -Thoreau

Be ever so little distracted, your thoughts so little confused, your engagements so few, your attention so free, that in all places and in all hours you can hear the sound of crickets in those seasons when they are to be heard.-Thoreau

However mean your life is, meet it and live it, do not shun it and call it hard names...Cultivate poverty like a garden herb, like sage. Do not trouble yourself to get new things, whether clothes or friends... Things do not change; we change. Sell your clothes and keep your thought. God will see you do not want society. -Thoreau

By enterprise, faith, men are where they are buying, selling, spending there lives as serfs. The wisest have always lived a more simpler and meager life than the poor. Enjoy the land but own it not. There is nothing, not even crime more opposed to life than this business, all this in-cessant business. -Thoreau

The sudden revolutions of these times and this generation have acquired a very have acquired a very ex-aggerated importance. They do not interest me much, forthey are not in harmony with the longer periods of nature...God does not sympathize with popular movements...The most positive life that history notices has been a constant retiring out of (it)...having nothing to do with it.-Thoreau

A man's life should be a stately march to a sweet but unheard music...There will be no halt ever, but at most a marching on his post, or such a pause as is richer than any sound, when the melody runs into such depth and wildness as to no longer be heard, but simply consented to with the whole life and being. He will take a false step never, even in the most arduous times, for then the music will not fail to swell into greater sweetness and volume.- 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.
-Thoreau

I learned this, at lest by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the directions of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life he has imangined, he will met with a success unexpected in common hours. He will put some things behind, will pass an invisible boundary; new, and more liberal laws will begin to establish themselves around and within him; 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 will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness.-Thoreau

This earth which is spread out like a map around me is but the lining of my inmost soul exposed . -Thoreau

And I have taken infinite pains to know all its phenomena, thinking that I have here the entire poem, but to my chagrin hear that it is an imperfect copy that I possess, that my ancestors have torn out many of the first leaves and grandest passages, mutilating it. I wish to know an entire heaven and earth. All the great trees, beast, fish, and fowl are gone. The stream, perchance are somewhat shrunk.-Thoreau

The light which puts out our eyes is a darkness to us. Only that day dawns to which we are awake. There is more day to dawn.-Thoreau

The morning and evening were sweet to me, and I led a life aloof from society of men. I wondered if any mortal had ever known what I knew. I looked in books for some recognition of a kindred experience, but, strange to say, I found none. Indeed, I was slow to discover that other men had had this experience for it had been possible to read books and to associate with men on other grounds. The maker of me was improving me... I was daily intoxicated, and yet no man could call me intemperate. With all your science can you tell me how it is, and whence it is, that light comes into the soul.

Fare well my friends, my path inclines to this side of the mountain, yours to that. I see that you will at length disappear all together. For a season my path seems lonely without you. My path grows narrower and steeper, and the night is approaching. Yet I have faith that, in the definite future, new suns will arise, and new plains expand before me, and I trust that I shall there in en-counter pilgrims who bear the same virtues-Thoreau

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