Henry David Thoreau (July 12, 1817 – May 6, 1862) was an American essayist, poet, and philosopher.
A leading transcendentalist, he is best known for his book Walden, a reflection upon simple living in natural surroundings, and his essay „Civil Disobedience“, an argument for disobedience to an unjust state.
Thoreau‘s books, articles, essays, journals, and poetry amount to more than 20 volumes.
His literary style interweaves close observation of nature, personal experience, pointed rhetoric, symbolic meanings, and historical lore, while displaying a poetic sensibility, philosophical austerity, and attention to practical detail.
He was also deeply interested in the idea of survival in the face of hostile elements, historical change, and natural decay; at the same time he advocated abandoning waste and illusion in order to discover life’s true essential needs.
Thoreau is sometimes referred to as an anarchist. Though „Civil Disobedience“ seems to call for improving rather than abolishing government – „I ask for, not at once no government, but at once a better government“ – the direction of this improvement contrarily points toward anarchism: „‘That government is best which governs not at all; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have.“
However mean your life is, meet and live it; do not shun it and call it hard names. It is not so bad as you are.
It looks poorest when you are richest.
The fault-finder will find faults even in paradise.
Love your life, poor as it is.
You may perhaps have some pleasant, thrilling, glorious hours, even in a poorhouse.
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 doors as early in the spring.
Cultivate property like a garden herb, like sage.
Do not trouble yourself much to get new things, whether clothes or friends.
Turn the old; return to them.
Things do not change; we change.
Sell your clothes and keep your thoughts…
Superfluous wealth can buy superfluities only.
Money is not required to buy one necessary of the soul.
Walden, or Life in the Woods