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Citatsektionen | Humanistiske citater

Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)

Udvalgt af Rune Engelbreth Larsen Udprint

H.D. THOREAU: »There will never be a really free and enlightened State, until the State comes to recognize the individual as a higher and independent power, from which all its own power and authority are derived, and treats him accordingly.«


H.D. THOREAU: »Even voting for the right is doing nothing for it. It is only expressing to men feebly your desire that it should prevail. A wise man will not leave the right to the mercy of chance, nor wish it to prevail through the power of the majority. There is but little virtue in the action of masses of men. When the majority shall at length vote for the abolition of slavery, it will be because they are indifferent to slavery, or because there is but little slavery left to be abolished by their vote. They will then be the only slaves. Only his vote can hasten the abolition of slavery who asserts his own freedom by his vote.«


H.D. THOREAU: »Cast your whole vote, not a strip of paper merely, but your whole influence. A minority is powerless while it conforms to the majority; it is not even a minority then; but it is irresistible when it clogs by its whole weight.«


H.D. THOREAU: »When the subject has refused allegiance, and the officer has resigned his office, then the revolution is accomplished. But even suppose blood should flow. Is there not a sort of bloodshed when the conscience is wounded? Through this wound a man's real manhood and immortality flow out, and he bleeds to an everlasting death. I see this blood flowing now.«

H.D. THOREAU: »Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison.«

CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE, 1849


H.D. THOREAU: »The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation.«

Det store flertal lever et liv i stille fortvivlelse. Det der kaldes resignation er forhærdet fortvivlelse.


H.D. THOREAU: »The greater part of what my neighbors call good I believe in my soul to be bad, and if I repent of anything, it is very likely to be my good behavior. What demon possessed me that I behaved so well? You may say the wisest thing you can, old man - you who have lived seventy years, not without honor of a kind - I hear an irresistible voice which invites me away from all that. One generation abandons the enterprises of another like stranded vessels.«

Størstedelen af hvad mine naboer kalder godt tror jeg inderst inde er ondt, og hvis jeg skulle angre noget måtte det vist blive min gode opførsel. Hvilken djævle var jeg besat af, siden jeg opførte mig så pænt? Du kan sige det klogeste du formår, gamle mand, - du som har levet i halvfjerdsindstyve år og ikke uden en vis hæder - jeg kan høre en uimodståelig stemme kalde mig bort fra alt det. Den ene generation forlader den andens forehavender som strandede skibe.


H.D. THOREAU: »I would not have any one adopt my mode of living on any account; for, beside that before he has fairly learned it I may have found out another for myself, I desire that there may be as many different persons in the world as possible; but I would have each one be very careful to find out and pursue his own way, and not his father's or his mother's or his neighbor's instead.«

Jeg ønsker bestemt ikke at andre skal overtage min måde at leve på, for, rent bortset fra at jeg måske finder en anden før de får lært den første rigtigt, så vil jeg gerne have at der skal være så mange forskellige mennesker i verden som muligt; mene enhver må omhyggeligt finde sin egen vej og følge den, ikke sin fars eller mors eller nabos.


H.D. THOREAU: »If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.«

Hvis et menneske ikke holder trit med sine ledsagere er det måske fordi det hører efter en anden trommeslager. Lad det gå i takt til den musik, det hører, ligegyldigt hvilken taktart den så har og hvor fjern den er.


H.D. THOREAU: »We think that we can change our clothes only. It is said that the British Empire is very large and respectable, and that the United States are a first-rate power. We do not believe that a tide rises and falls behind every man which can float the British Empire like a chip, if he should ever harbor it in his mind.«

Vi tror ikke vi kan skifte andet end tøj. Det siges at det Britiske Imperium er meget stort og fortjener respekt, og at de Forenede Stater er en magt af første rang. Vi tror ikke, at der bag hvert eneste menneske stiger og falder en tidevandsbølge, som kan rive det Britiske Imperium væk som en høvlspån, hvis mennesket bare ville åbne sit sind for den.

WALDEN, OR LIFE IN THE WOODS, 1854
Oversættelser af Niels Brunse


H.D. THOREAU: »The modern Christian is a man who has consented to say all the prayers in the liturgy, provided you will let him go straight to bed and sleep quietly afterward. All his prayers begin with 'Now I lay me down to sleep,' and he is forever looking forward to the time when he shall go to his 'long rest.' He has consented to perform certain old-established charities, too, after a fashion, but he does not wish to hear of any new-fangled ones; he doesn't wish to have any supplementary articles added to the contract, to fit it to the present time. He shows the whites of his eyes on the Sabbath, and the blacks all the rest of the week. The evil is not merely a stagnation of blood, but a stagnation of spirit. Many, no doubt, are well disposed, but sluggish by constitution and by habit, and they cannot conceive of a man who is actuated by higher motives than they are. Accordingly they pronounce this man insane, for they know that they could never act as he does, as long as they are themselves.«


H.D. THOREAU: »When were the good and the brave ever in a majority?«


H.D. THOREAU: »I do not wish to kill nor to be killed, but I can foresee circumstances in which both these things would be by me unavoidable. We preserve the so-called peace of our community by deeds of petty violence every day. Look at the policeman's billy and handcuffs! Look at the jail! Look at the gallows! Look at the chaplain of the regiment! We are hoping only to live safely on the outskirts of this provisional army.«

A PLEA FOR CAPTAIN JOHN BROWN, 1860


H.D. THOREAU:
What does he ask?
Some worthy task.
Never to run
Till that be done,
That never done
Under the sun. (...)

Not be deceived
Of suffring bereaved
Not lose his life
By living too well
Nor escape strife
In his lonley cell
And so find out Heaven
By not knowing Hell.

THE HERO [fra et udkast til WALDEN]


Any fool can make a rule
every fool will mind it.

JOURNALS, 1860


H.D. THOREAU: »Vær ikke for moralsk. Man snyder sig for meget her i livet derved. Stil højere end moralen. Vær ikke kun god, vær godt for noget.«


H.D. THOREAU: »Faktum er, at vi må bære verden på ryggen som Atlas og se at komme tilrette dermed. Man gør det for en idés skyld, og ens succes vil afhænge af ens fuldkomne hengivelse i sagen. Vist vil ryggen undertiden give sig af smerte, men man opnår da den tilfredsstillelse at få drejet og vendt den, til den makker ret.«

Fra breve til Harrison G. O. Blake
Oversat af Ingeborg Buhl


H.D. THOREAU: »I do not prefer one religion or philosophy to another. I have no sympathy with the bigotry and ignorance which make transient and partial and puerile distinctions between one man's faith or form of faith and another's, - as Christian and heathen. I pray to be delivered from narrowness, partiality, exaggeration, bigotry. To the philosopher all sects, all nations, are alike. I like Brahma, Hari, Buddha, the Great Spirit, as well as God.« (JOURNALS, 1850-51).


H.D. THOREAU: »Freedom of speech! It hath not entered into your hearts to conceive what those words mean. It is not leave given me by your sect to say this or that; it is when leave is given to your sect to withdraw. The church, the state, the school, the magazine, think they are liberal and free! It is the freedom of a prison-yard. I ask only that one fourth part of my honest thoughts be spoken aloud. What is it you tolerate, you church to-day? Not truth, but a lifelong hypocrisy. Let us have institutions framed not out of our rottenness, but out of our soundness. This factitious piety is like stale gingerbread.« (JOURNALS, 1858).


H.D. THOREAU: »Verden er et sted, hvor der arbejdes og gøres forretninger. Hvilken uendelig fortravlethed! Næsten hver nat vækkes jeg af lokomotivers stønnen. De forstyrrer mine drømme. Der findes ingen søndage. Det ville være herligt for en gangs skyld at se menneskeheden hengive sig til et liv i ro og mag. Altid drejer det sig om arbejde, arbejde, arbejde. (...) Der findes næppe noget, ikke engang forbrydelser, som er en større modsætning til poesi, til filosofi og til livet selv end dette uafladelige arbejde.«


H.D. THOREAU: »Hvis en mand af kærlighed til skovene bruger alle dagens timer på at vandre i dem, risikerer han at blive opfattet som dagdriver; men hvis han bruger hele dagen som spekulant, nedlægger de samme skove og gør Moder Jord skaldet i utide, anses han for at være flittig og foretagsom. Som om en by ingen anden interesse har i sine træer end at fælde dem!«


H.D. THOREAU: »De fleste ville blive fornærmede, hvis man tilbød at ansætte dem til at kaste sten over en mur og derefter kaste stenene tilbage igen, bare for at de kunne gøre sig fortjent til deres løn. Men mange har i dag en lige så uværdig beskæftigelse.«

LIVET UDEN PRINCIPPER, 1863
Oversat af Flemming Chr. Nielsen og Jacob Maagaard Dyekjær