The Written Word is the Work of Art Nearest to Life Itself

alex atkins bookshelf quotationsA 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. It may be translated into every language, and not only be read but actually breathed from all human lips; — not be represented on canvas or in marble only, but be carved out of the breath of life itself.

From Walden; or Life in the Woods (1854) by Henry David Thoreau, American poet, essayist, abolitionist, and transcendentalist. Thoreau explains his inspiration for living in a cabin he built near Walden Pond: “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… I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life.” Mohandas Gandhi considered Thoreau “one of the greatest and most moral men America has produced.” Legendary American poet Robert Frost added, “In one book… [Thoreau] surpasses everything we have had in America.”


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