Happy Birthday, Henry!

Happy Birthday to Henry David Thoreau! Born July 12, 1817, it’s been 195 years since the day of Henry’s birth. In honor of this day, here are a few of Henry’s own words on himself, courtesy of Jeffery Cramer’s The Quotable Thoreau.


I have always been regretting that I was not as wise as the day I was born” – Walden, (pg. 372).

I was not born to be forced. I will breathe after my own fashion” – ‘Resistance to Civil Government’ in Reform Papers, (pg. 7).

I have never got over my surprise that I should have been born into the most estimable place in all the world, and in the very nick of time, too” –Written December 5, 1856, in his Journal, vol. IX (pg. 3).

I do not purpose to write an ode to dejection, but to brag as lustily as chanticleer in the morning, standing on his roost, if only to wake my neighbors up”—Walden, (pg. 3).

It is my own way of living that I complain of as well as yours” –‘Huckleberries,’ (pg. 3).

I am freer than any planet” – Written March 21, 1840, in his Journal, vol. 1. (pg. 93).

It is impossible for me to be interested in what interests men generally. Their pursuits and interests seem to me frivolous. When I am most myself and see the clearest, men are least to be seen” – Written April 24, 1852, in his Journal, vol. 4 (pg. 7).

What’s your favorite Thoreau quote? Share with us!

Want to brush up on Henry’s life and craft? Read the Introduction to The Quotable Thoreau, here. Alternatively, check out a Henry David Thoreau Princeton Short – ‘On Reading: From Walden.’