Quotes from Thoreau's 'Walden'

Collected by Amy Franceschini and Myriel Milicevic for their afternoon session on the Luminous Green Symposium 2007

The man who independently plucked the fruits when he was hungry became a farmer, and he who stood under a tree for shelter, a housekeeper. We now no longe cam as for a night, but we have settled down on Earth and forgotten Heaven. We have adopted Christianity merely as an improved method of agriculture. We have built for this world a mansion and for the next a family tomb. The best works of art are the expression of man's struggle to free himself from this condition, but the effect of our art is merely to make this low state comfortable and that higher state to be forgotten. There is actually no place in this village for a work of fine art, if any had come down to us, to stand, for our lives, our houses and streets, furnish no proper pedestal for it.

If a man walk in the woods for love of them half of each day, he is in danger of being regarded as a loafer; but if he spends his whole day as a spectator, shearing off those woods and making Earth bald before her time, he is esteemed an industrious and enterprising citizen.

I wish to speak a word for nature, for absolute freedom and wildness, as contrasted with a freedom and culture merely civil - to regard man as an inhabitant, or a part and parcel of nature, rather than a member of society.

“After a night's sleep the news is as indispensable as the breakfast.”“ Pray tell me anything new that has happened to a man anywhere on this globe” - and he reads it over his coffee and rolls, that a man has had his eyes gouged out this moring on the Wachito river, never dreaming the while that he lives in the park unfathomed mammoth cave of this world and has but the rudiment of an eye himself.

For my part, I could easily do without the post-office. I think that are very few important communications made through it. To speak critically, I never received more than one or two letters in my life - I wrote this some years ago - that were worth the postage.

The grand necessity, then, for our bodies, is to keep warm, to keep the vital heat in us. What pains we accordingly take, not only with our food and clothing and shelter, but with our beds, which are our night-clothes, robbing the nests and breasts of birds to prepare this shelter within a shelter, as the mole has its bed of grass and leaves at the end of its burrow! The poor man is wont to complain that this is a cold world; and to cold, no less physical than social, we refer directly a great part of our alls.

To a philospher, all news, as it is called, is gossip, and they who edit and read it are old women over their tea. Yet, not a few are greedy after the gossip.

One says to me, “I wonder that you do not lay up money; you love to travel; you might take the [railroad] cars and go to Fitchburg today and see the country.” But I am wiser than that. I have learned that the swiftest traveller is he that goes afoot. I say to my friend - suppose we see who will get there first. The distance is 30 miles; the fare is 90 cents - almost a days wages. Well now I start on foot, and get there before night; you will in the meantime have earned your fare, and arrive there sometime tomorrow, or possibly this evening, if you are lucky enough to get a job in season. Instead of going to Fitchburg, you will be working here the greater part of the day.

For more 'illuminations see luminous green quotes

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