Quotes by Henry David Thoreau
The law will never make men free; it is men who have got to make the law free.
Here while I lie beneath this walnut bough‚ What care I for the Greeks or for Troy town‚ If juster battles are enacted now Between the ants upon this hummock's crown?
My life is like a stroll upon the beach‚ As near the ocean's edge as I can go.
The fate of the country does not depend on how you vote at the polls the worst man is as strong as the best at that game; it does not depend on what kind of paper you drop into the ballot-box once a year, but on what kind of man you drop from your chamber into the street every morning.
Whate'er we leave to God‚ God does And blesses us.
My books I'd fain cast off‚ I cannot read‚ 'Twixt every page my thoughts go stray at large Down in the meadow‚ where is richer feed‚ And will not mind to hit their proper targe.
Talk of mysteries! Think of our life in nature, daily to be shown matter, to come in contact with it, rocks, trees, wind on our cheeks! The solid earth! the actual world! the common sense! Contact! Contact! Who are we? where are we?
She with one breath attunes the spheres‚ And also my poor human heart.
I am a parcel of vain strivings tied By a chance bond together‚ Dangling this way and that‚ their links Were made so loose and wide‚ Methinks‚ For milder weather.
It is not enough to be industrious; so are the ants. What are you industrious about?
You ask particularly after my health. I suppose that I have not many months to live; but, of course, I know nothing about it. I may add that '''I am enjoying existence as much as ever, and regret nothing.'''
But now I see I was not plucked for naught‚ And after in life's vase Of glass set while I might survive‚ But by a kind hand brought Alive To a strange place.
Great God‚ I ask thee for no meaner pelf Than that I may not disappoint myself‚ That in my action I may soar as high As I can now discern with this clear eye.
I hear beyond the range of sound‚ I see beyond the range of sight‚ New earths and skies and seas around‚ And in my day the sun doth pale his light.
Henry David Thoreau's Biography
American essayist, poet, and practical philosopher, best-known for his autobiographical story of life in the woods, WALDEN (1854). Thoreau became one of the leading personalities in New England Transcendentalism. He wrote tirelessly but published only two books in his lifetime and did not earn much as a journalist. Thoreau's CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE (1849) influenced Gandhi in his passive resistance campaigns,Martin Luther King, Jr., and at one time the politics of the British Labour Party.

Henry David Thoreau was born in Concord, Massachusetts, which was center of his life, although he spent several years in his childhood in the neighboring towns and elsewhere in his adulthood. In 1835 Thoreau contracted tuberculosis and suffered from recurring bouts throughout his life. However, a few years later Emerson described Thoreauas a "strong healthy youthm fresh from college". He had an out-of doors complexion, and he was often seen walking around his home town. Thoreau studied at Concord Academy (1828-33), and at Harvard University, graduating in 1837. He was teacher in Canton, Massachusetts (1835-36), and at Center School (1837), resigning after two weeks ? he first refused to continue the tradition of daily canings and then beat six students to protest against corporal punishment.

From 1837-38 Thoreau worked in his father's pencil factory, and returning to the factory in 1844 and 1849-50. With his elder brother John he opened a school in Concord. Thoreau taught there in 1838-41 until his John Thoreau became fatally ill. From 1848 he was a regular lecturer at Concord Lyceym. He also worked as a land surveyor.

A decisive turning point in Thoreau's life came when he met Ralph Waldo Emerson. He was a member of Emerson household from 1841 to 1843, earning his living as a handyman. In 1843 he was a tutor to William Emerson's sons in Staten Island, New York, and in 1847-48 he again lived in Emerson's house.

In 1845 Thoreau built a home on the shores of Walden Point for twenty-eight dollars. His observations and speculations Thoreau recorded in A WEEK ON THE CONCORD AND MERRIMACK RIVERS (1849). The account was based on a trip he took with John Thoreau in 1839.

His first book sold poorly and Thoreau remarked, "I have now a library of nearly nine hundred volumes, over seven hundred of which I wrote myself." Thoreau's most famous essay, CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE (1849), was a result of a overnight visit in 1846 in a jail, where he ended after refusing to pay his taxes in protest against the Mexican War and the extension of slavery. Later Thoreau lectured and wrote about the evils of slavery and helped fleeing slaves. In his famous statement, "the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation," he crystallized his idea to be the one who has the courage to live, to stand against the trends of his own time.

Walden; or, Life in the Woods described a two-year period in Thoreau's life from March 1845 to September 1847. From the Fourth of July, the author retired from the town to live alone at Walden Pond. Much of Walden's material was derived from his journals and contains such pieces as 'Reading' and 'The Pond in the Winter.' "We are a race of titmen, and soar but a little higher in our intellectual flights than the columns of the daily paper," Thoreau wrote in 'Reading in Walden.' Other famous sections involve Thoreau's visits with a Canadian woodcutter and with an Irish family, a trip to Concord, and a description of his bean field. Although Walden has become an inspiration to all idealists who want to escape civilization, Thoreau was a practical person and took with him seed, lumber, clothes, nails, and other devices to survive ? and his friends helped him to put the roof on his hut.

Although Thoreau never earned a living by his writings, his works fill 20 volumes. Among his many correspondence friends was H.G.O. Blake, once a Unitarian minister and later attached to the Transcendentalist, whom he wrote in December 1856: "I am grateful for what I am & have. My thanksgiving is perpetual. It is surprising how contended one can be with nothing definite - only a sense of existance." Aware that he was dying of tuberculosis, Thoreau cut short his travels and returned to Concord. There prepared some of his journals for publication. Thoreau died at Concord on May 6, 1862. His letters were edited by his friend Emerson and published posthumously in 1865. POEMS OF NATURE appeared in 1895 and COLLECTED POEMS in 1943. Thoreau's collection of journals was published in 1906 in 14 volumes.

Thoreau's primary genre was essay. His fascination with the natural surroundings is reflected in many of his writings. 'Natural History of Massachusetts' includes poetry, describes the Merrimack River, and discusses the best technique for spear-fishing. In 'Resistance to Civil Government', often reprinted with the title 'Civil Disobedience', Thoreau recommends disobeying unjust laws. "I think that we should be men first, and subjects afterward. It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right." Many readers have pointed out that in 'Slavery in Massachusetts' Thoreau's defense of John Brown, when he raided on the armory at Harper's Ferry, contradicts his idea of passive resistance. In his final essay, 'Life Without Principle', the writer warns that working for money alone will never bring happiness. He attacks his contemporaries' fascination with news and gossips and explains how individuals must resist conformity in the search for truth.

In 1999 appeared Thoreau's WILD FRUITS, written with henscratched handwriting. The text was born during the last decade of his life. Thoreau lived in the third-floor attic of his parents' house and recorded his observations about vegetation surrounding Concord. In Wild Fruits he argued against the destruction of the wilderness around him.

Some rights reserved Petri Liukkonen (author) & Ari Pesonen. Kuusankosken kaupunginkirjasto 2008

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