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Henry Thoreau
(12 Jul 1817 - 6 May 1862)

American writer, naturalist, philosopher and poet who is best known for his study of nature, while retired to live in a hut beside Walden Pond at Concord (4 Jul 1845-6 Sep 1847). Thereafter, he wrote two books: A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers (1849) and Walden, or Life in the Woods (1854).


Henry Thoreau Quotes on Nature (12 quotes)

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Here is this vast, savage, howling mother of ours, Nature, lying all around, with such beauty, and such affection for her children, as the leopard; and yet we are so early weaned from her breast to society, to that, culture which is exclusively an interaction of man on man.
— Henry Thoreau
Remarking how society becomes divorces individuals from nature. In essay, Walking (1862). Collected in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau (1893), Vol. 9, 291.
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How indispensable to a correct study of Nature is a perception of her true meaning. The fact will one day flower out into a truth. The season will mature and fructify what the understanding had cultivated. Mere accumulators of facts—collectors of materials for the master-workmen—are like those plants growing in dark forests, which “put forth only leaves instead of blossoms.”
— Henry Thoreau
(16 Dec 1837). In Henry David Thoreau and Bradford Torrey (ed.), The Writings of Henry Thoreau: Journal: I: 1837-1846 (1906), 18.
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If I were a physician I would try my patients thus. I would wheel them to a window and let Nature feel their pulse. It will soon appear if their sensuous existence is sound. The sounds are but the throbbing of some pulse in me.
— Henry Thoreau
(26 Feb 1841). In Henry David Thoreau and Bradford Torrey (ed.), The Writings of Henry Thoreau: Journal: I: 1837-1846 (1906), 224.
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If we knew all the laws of Nature, we should need only one fact or the description of one actual phenomenon to infer all the particular results at that point. Now we know only a few laws, and our result is vitiated, not, of course, by any confusion or irregularity in Nature, but by our ignorance of essential elements in the calculation. Our notions of law and harmony are commonly confined to those instances which we detect, but the harmony which results from a far greater number of seemingly conflicting, but really concurring, laws which we have not detected, is still more wonderful. The particular laws are as our points of view, as to the traveler, a mountain outline varies with every step, and it has an infinite number of profiles, though absolutely but one form. Even when cleft or bored through, it is not comprehended in its entireness.
— Henry Thoreau
In Walden (1878), 311.
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It appears to be law that you cannot have a deep sympathy with both man and nature.
— Henry Thoreau
Journal entry (11 Apr 1852).
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Let Nature do your bottling and your pickling and preserving. For all Nature is doing her best each moment to make us well. She exists for no other end. Do not resist her. With the least inclination to be well, we should not be sick. Men have discovered—or think they have discovered—the salutariness of a few wild things only, and not of all nature. Why, “nature” is but another name for health, and the seasons are but different states of health. Some men think that they are not well in spring, or summer, or autumn, or winter; it is only because they are not well in them.
— Henry Thoreau
(23 Aug 1853). In Henry David Thoreau and Bradford Torrey (ed.), The Writings of Henry Thoreau: Journal: V: March 5-November 30, 1853 (1906), 395.
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Man cannot afford to be a naturalist, to look at Nature directly, but only with the side of his eye. He must look through and beyond her, to look at her is fatal as to look at the head of Medusa. It turns the man of science to stone. I feel that I am dissipated by so many observations. I should be the magnet in the midst of all this dust and filings.
— Henry Thoreau
From Journal entry (23 Mar 1953), in Henry David Thoreau and Bradford Torrey (ed.), Journal (1906), Vol. 5, 45.
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Nature abhors a vacuum, and if I can only walk with sufficient carelessness I am sure to be filled.
— Henry Thoreau
Early Spring, 52. Excerpt in H.G.O. Blake (ed.), Thoreau's Thoughts: Selections From the Writings of Henry David Thoreau (1890,2005), 112.
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Nature is full of genius, full of the divinity; so that not a snowflake escapes its fashioning hand.
— Henry Thoreau
In Journal, (5 Jan 1856). In Henry David Thoreau and Odell Shepard (ed.), The Heart of Thoreau’s Journals (1927), 227.
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The process of discovery is very simple. An unwearied and systematic application of known laws to nature, causes the unknown to reveal themselves. Almost any mode of observation will be successful at last, for what is most wanted is method.
— Henry Thoreau
In A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers (1862), 382.
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The true man of science will know nature better by his finer organization; he will smell, taste, see, hear, feel, better than other men. His will be a deeper and finer experience.
— Henry Thoreau
In 'Natural history of Massachusetts', The Dial: A Magazine for Literature, Philosophy, and Religion (Jul 1842), 3, No. 1, 40.
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We sleep, and at length awake to the still reality of a winter morning. The snow lies warm as cotton or down upon the window-sill; the broadened sash and frosted panes admit a dim and private light, which enhances the snug cheer within. The stillness of the morning is impressive... From the eaves and fences hang stalactites of snow, and in the yard stand stalagmites covering some concealed core. The trees and shrubs rear white arms to the sky on every side; and where were walls and fences we see fantastic forms stretching in the frolic gambols across the dusky landscape, as if nature had strewn her fresh designs over the fields by night as models for man’s art.
— Henry Thoreau
…...
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See also:
  • 12 Jul - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Thoreau's birth.
  • Henry Thoreau - context of quote “Dews of fresh and living truth” - Medium image (500 x 250 px)
  • Henry Thoreau - context of quote “Dews of fresh and living truth” - Large image (800 x 400 px)

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