Work & Leisure Quotations


How admirably the artist is made to accomplish his self-culture by devotion to his art! The wood-sawyer, through his effort to do his work well, becomes not merely a better wood-sawyer, but measurably a better man. — Thoreau to H.G.O. Blake, 19 December 1853—Thoreau to H.G.O. Blake, 19 December 1853
I hate the present modes of living and getting a living.—Journal, 1 November 1855
I wish to suggest that a man may be very industrious, and yet not spend his time well. There is no more fatal blunderer than he who consumes the greater part of life getting his living.—"Life Without Principle"
In short, I am convinced, both by faith and experience, that to maintain one’s self on this earth is not a hardship but a pastime, if we will live simply and wisely; as the pursuits of the simpler nations are still the sports of the more artificial. It is not necessary that a man should earn his living by the sweat of his brow, unless he sweats more easier than I do. — WaldenWalden
It is a labor to task the faculties of a man—such problems of profit and loss, of interest, of tare and tret, and gauging of all kinds in it, as demand a universal knowledge. — WaldenWalden
It would be glorious to see mankind at leisure for once. It is nothing but work, work, work. — "Life Without Principle"—"Life Without Principle"
Many a forenoon have I stolen away, preferring to spend thus the most valued part of the day; for I was rich, if not in money, in sunny hours and summer days, and spent them lavishly; nor do I regret that I did not waste more of them in the workshop or the teacher's desk.—Walden
Men should not labor foolishly like brutes, but the brain and the body should always, or as much as possible, work and rest together. — Thoreau to H.G.O. Blake, 2 May 1848—Thoreau to H.G.O. Blake, 2 May 1848
My work is writing, and I do not hesitate, though I know that no subject is too trivial for me, tried by ordinary standards; for, ye fools, the theme is nothing, the life is everything.—Journal18 October 1856
Returning, stopped at Barrett's sawmill while it rained a little. Was also attracted by the music of his saw. He was sawing a white oak log; was about to saw a very ugly and knotty white oak log into drag plank, making an angle.—Journal, 19 May 1856
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