Literary Birthday – 12 July – Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau was born 12 July 1817, and died 6 May 1862.


  1. Every poet has trembled on the verge of science.
  2. To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts. Every man is tasked to make his life, even in its details, worthy of the contemplation of his most elevated and critical hour.
  3. The question is not what you look at, but what you see. (via)
  4. There is no remedy for love, but to love more.
  5. A bore is someone who takes away my solitude and doesn’t give me companionship in return.
  6. How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.
  7. The youth gets together his materials to build a bridge to the moon, or, perchance, a palace or temple on the earth, and, at length, the middle-aged man concludes to build a woodshed with them.
  8. Our houses are such unwieldy property that we are often imprisoned rather than housed in them.
  9. If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundation under them.
  10. Nothing is so much to be feared as fear.
  11. It is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things.
  12. Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all.

Henry David Thoreau was an American author, poet, philosopher, abolitionist, naturalist, tax resister, and historian. He is best known for his book Walden, a reflection upon simple living in natural surroundings. Follow this link to find out where Henry David Thoreau slept. His writing is available in The Works of Henry David Thoreau.

Source for Image: National Portrait Gallery, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons  https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Benjamin_D._Maxham_-_Henry_David_Thoreau_-_Restored_-_greyscale_-_straightened.jpg

by Amanda Patterson

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Posted on: 12th July 2013