Intriguing And Provocative Quotes Found In Thoreau’s Walden

We’ve compiled a list of some of the most provocative quotes from Walden that make us ponder about life, art, nature, and simplicity. Come explore with us!

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Henry David Thoreau in black and white next to the cover for Walden.

For centuries, Henry David Thoreau has been an imperative figure in American literature. During his time, he played important roles in several movements and was involved in multiple subjects, such as politics, environmentalism, abolitionism, and ethics. Despite his many works spanning his lifetime, he is best known for his book Walden, which details his story of living in the woods and among natural surroundings. The book contains various stories and quotes about life, art, death, and society, some of which make the reader ponder their purpose and meaning. Come explore a few of these quotes with us!

“I love to be alone. I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude.”

This first quote allows a reader to explore their own connection with other people and their relationships. Do we really need someone else to be content? Can we be perfectly and incandescently (excuse my movie joke from Pride & Prejudice) happy? These are the types of questions that this quote makes us wonder about.

“Books are the treasured wealth of the world and the fit inheritance of generations and nations.”

As readers, we love books. Thoreau, as a writer, was no different. Books and words will live on as long as we allow them to, and they will continuously provide knowledge for as long as they exist. How are books related to the world? Is knowledge power, and how do books provide knowledge? This quote allows readers to explore the relationship between books and the world.

“We need the tonic of wildness… At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature.”

This quote makes readers think about the human connection to nature and exploration. What if all of the world was explored? Would we, as humans, still be as fulfilled as we are now, or are we yearning to continuously explore and experience new things? Thoreau seems to think we cannot get enough.

Walden cover with a wooden bridge and a body of water surrounded by vegetation and trees.

“Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.”

This quote from Thoreau about life is simply inspiring. He encourages the reader to live in the moment and experience the little things, such as the moments the earth gives us. Maybe we’d all worry less if we just laid in the grass for a while and forgot our responsibilities (a bit Romantic, but perhaps try it anyway).

“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.”

Thoreau makes a good point with this quote. Whether we’re poor or rich, the earth continues the same for everyone. We can experience the earth the same as a millionaire or someone living in poverty. All of us can watch the sunset or sunrise and experience the seasons just the same.

“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.”

As readers and writers, we absolutely adore this quote. From the beginning of time, humans have communicated. From there, the written word was developed. We, as humans, need words to experience life. For example, if you look at an oil painting, you need to have the written word to describe it. Words are simply closest to life, and Thoreau beautifully articulated this concept.

“I have, as it were, my own sun and moon and stars, and a little world all to myself.”

We put this last quote in here because it was a gorgeous sentiment. We all have a little world to ourselves, and in a way, we all have our own sun, moon, and stars, all illustrated by our own perception.

Henry David Thoreau in a suit sitting on a rock surrounded by trees and a body of water.

Thoreau’s works have remained popular through the centuries, and these quotes give an insight into the type of life he lived and the way he thought. Did any of these quotes inspire you or make you think about life?

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