Henry David Thoreau Quotations: Writing
A well-built sentence, in the rapidity and force with which it works, may be compared to a modern corn planter, which furrows out, drops the seed, and covers it up at one movement.—Journal, 5 January 1842.
A written word is the choicest of relics. It is something at once more intimate with us and more universal than any other work of art. It is the work of art nearest to life itself.—Walden
Ancient history has an air of antiquity. It should be more modern. It is written as if the spectator should be thinking of the backside of the picture on the wall, or as if the author expected that the dead would be his readers, and wished to detail to them their own experience.—A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers
As for style of writing—if one has any thing to say, it drops from him simply and directly, as stone falls to the ground.—Thoreau to Daniel Ricketson, 18 August 1857
Books must be read as deliberately and reservedly as they were written.—Walden
By the quality of a man's writing, by the elevation of its tone, you may measure his self-respect.—Journal, 4 September 1851
English literature, from the days of the minstrels to the Lake Poets,—Chaucer and Spenser and Milton, and even Shakespeare, included- breathes no quite fresh and in this sense wild strain. It is an essentially tame and civilized literature, reflecting Greece and Rome. Her wilderness is a green wood,—her wild man a Robin Hood.—"Walking"
For my part, I could easily do without the post-office. I think that there 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.—Walden
His humor is always subordinate to a serious purpose, though often the real charm for the reader is not so much in the essential progress and final upshot of this chapter, as in this indirect side-light illustration of every hue.—"Thomas Carlyle and His Works"
Homer has never yet been printed in English, nor Æschylus, nor Virgil even—works as refined, as solidly done, and as beautiful almost as the morning itself; for later writers, say what we will of their genius, have rarely, if ever, equalled the elaborate beauty and finish and the lifelong and heroic literary labors of the ancients.—Walden