Walden - Episode 3

by Saul Edmonds

Here continues our winding path through the book ‘Walden’ by Henry David Thoreau.

Walden is a densely versed book and is best read with a slow and contemplative eye.

It is a poem of prosed form.

Freedom, truth and a meaningful life lived in the balance are the earnest themes of this book.

Find below 3 more quotes from the first chapter entitled ‘Economy’.

Quote 1 :

‘By the words, necessary of life, I mean whatever, of all that man obtains by his own exertions, has been from the first, or from long use has become, so important to human life that few, if any, whether from savageness, or poverty, or philosophy, ever attempt to do without it.’

Comment :
What is truly necessary to live well? This is central dilemma for Thoreau. What is essential has been long obscured and we must seek to rediscover it and ourselves in the process.

Quote 2 :

‘Most of the luxuries, and many of the so-called comforts of life, are not only not indispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind. With respect to luxuries and comforts, the wisest have ever lived a more simple and meagre life than the poor.’

Comment :
Thoreau seeks value in simplicity. He opines that most possessions are esteemed beyond their true worthiness. Luxury items are metaphorically burdensome - we exchange free time for labouring in pursuit of disparate goods for doubtful gain. For Thoreau this is a false bargain. He notes that the wisest of our culture have traditionally lived with less.

Quote 3 :

‘There are nowadays professors of philosophy, but not philosophers.’

Comment :
Our modern day world is full of paradox. Where once were practitioners only theoreticians remain. One step removed and one step away. Thoreau again indicates a seasoned review to establish a proper order that best befits society.


Walden is an out of print book and is available for free download.

This chrysalis of action and intent.
More soon …

by Saul Edmonds