Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Walking by Henry David Thoreau

For the 2022 Back to the Classics category- choose a nonfiction classic I decided to go with Walking by Henry David Thoreau (1851).  At only forty pages, its a nice introduction to Thoreau's writing, his views about the natural world and humanity's place in it and the importance of walking.  Here is Thoreau on these subjects: 

"We should go forth on the shortest walk, perchance, in the spirit of undying adventure, never to return—prepared to send back our embalmed hearts only as relics to our desolate kingdoms. If you are ready to leave father and mother, and brother and sister, and wife and child and friends, and never see them again—if you have paid your debts, and made your will, and settled all your affairs, and are a free man—then you are ready for a walk.       

"I love even to see the domestic animals reassert their native rights—any evidence that they have not wholly lost their original wild habits and vigor; as when my neighbor's cow breaks out of her pasture early in the spring and boldly swims the river, a cold, gray tide, twenty-five or thirty rods wide, swollen by the melted snow. It is the buffalo crossing the Mississippi".

"At present, in this vicinity, the best part of the land is not private property; the landscape is not owned, and the walker enjoys comparative freedom. But possibly the day will come when it will be partitioned off into so-called pleasure-grounds, in which a few will take a narrow and exclusive pleasure only—when fences shall be multiplied, and man-traps and other engines invented to confine men to the PUBLIC road, and walking over the surfarce of God's earth shall be construed to mean trespassing on some gentleman's grounds".

I enjoyed Walking and underlined quite a few passages as I read through the book.  Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) is remarkably relevant today.  He was a writer, an abolitionist, a naturalist, a philosopher and as has been pointed out his one room cabin on Walden Pond could be considered the forerunner of the tiny house movement.  I recommend Walking and I am definitely planning to give Thoreau's great classic Walden a try. 


  1. I think my last comment disappeared into spam hell so I'm trying again... but I really love Thoreau! Walden is one of my favorite books...I used to read it every year...and I've underlined many passages in that one. He just says things in a way that resonate, or that make me stop and think. :D

  2. Hi Lark, I have yet to read Walden but I plan to. Here is a quote from Walden that when I read it stopped me in my tacks:

    "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived".

    Thoreau was just so ahead of his time and I predict people will be reading him two hundred years from now, just as Marcus Aurelius's Meditations is still being read.

    1. That quote right there is one of the reasons that I love Thoreau so much. :D