Walden Quotes – Lessons Learnt from Living in the Woods

These Walden Quotes will help inspire you to get back out into the wild and reconnect with the natural world.

Henry David Thoreau was born on July 12, 1817, in Concord, Massachusetts. He began writing nature poetry in the 1840s, with poet Ralph Waldo Emerson as a mentor and friend. In 1845 he began his famous two-year stay at Walden Pond, which he wrote about in his master work, Walden.

enry David Thoreau book

During this time, he worked and spent time in a small cabin that he built next to Walden pond. This afforded him time to work the land, to write, and to spend time in nature. Walden was a modest success when first released, however it gathered momentum as the years passed as is fondly regarded as one of the greatest books on alternative living and a work that has inspired further generations of environmentalist writing.

In his work you will find honesty, clear thinking and an original mind, unafraid of standing out and rebelling against social norms.

Below are our favourite quotes from the book.

Walden Quotes

“I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” 

“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.” 

Cool blue lake with pine trees and a mountain
Escape into the wild

“Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.” 

“I had three chairs in my house; one for solitude, two for friendship, three for society.”

“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.” 

“I find it wholesome to be alone the greater part of the time. To be in company, even with the best, is soon wearisome and dissipating. I love to be alone. I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude.” 

“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.” 

“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.” 

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

“As if you could kill time without injuring eternity.” 

“Things do not change; we change.” 

pots and pans in cabin in the woods
Simple living

“The cost of a thing is the amount of what I will call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.” 

“We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aids, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn, which does not forsake us even in our soundest sleep. I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by a conscious endeavour. It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make a few objects beautiful; but it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look, which morally we can do. To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts.” 

“A man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone.” 

“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” 

“All men want, not something to do with, but something to do, or rather something to be.” 

Enjoyed these Walden quotes? Fuel your wanderlust further with these quotes for women, inspiring nature quotes or wise words about travelling. If you love a good adventure then find out which ice marathon would be right for you!