Walden; Or, Life in the Woods, Henry David Thoreau, 1910
1. ...The millions are awake enough for physical labor; but only one in a million is awake enough for
2. effective intellectual exertion, only one in a hundred millions to a poetic or divine life. To be awake
3. is to be alive. I have never yet met a man who was quite awake. How could I have looked him in the
5. I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life,
6. and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had
7. not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise
8. resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life,
9. to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and
10. shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be
11. mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the
12. world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in
13. my next excursion. For most men, it appears to me, are in a strange uncertainty about it, whether
14. it is of the devil or of God, and have somewhat hastily concluded that it is the chief end of man
15. here to "glorify God and enjoy him forever."
16. Still we live meanly, like ants; though the fable tells us that we were long ago changed into men;
17. like pygmies we fight with cranes; it is error upon error, and clout upon clout, and our best virtue
18. has for its occasion a superfluous and evitable wretchedness. Our life is frittered away by detail.
19. An honest man has hardly need to count more than his ten fingers, or in extreme cases he may
20. add his ten toes, and lump the rest. Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say, let your affairs be as
21. two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand; instead of a million count half a dozen, and
22. keep your accounts on your thumb-nail.
23. ... Simplify, simplify. Instead of three meals a day, if it be necessary eat but one; instead of a
24. hundred dishes, five; and reduce other things in proportion. Our life is like a German Confederacy,
25. made up of petty states, with its boundary forever fluctuating, so that even a German cannot tell
26. you how it is bounded at any moment. The nation itself, with all its so-called internal
27. improvements, which, by the way are all external and superficial, is just such an unwieldy and
28. overgrown establishment, cluttered with furniture and tripped up by its own traps, ruined by
29. luxury and heedless expense, by want of calculation and a worthy aim, as the million households in
30. the land; and the only cure for it, as for them, is in a rigid economy, a stern and more than Spartan
31. simplicity of life and elevation of purpose. It lives too fast.
32. Men think that it is essential that the Nation have commerce, and export ice, and talk through a
33. telegraph, and ride thirty miles an hour, without a doubt, whether they do or not; but whether
34. we should live like baboons or like men, is a little uncertain. If we do not get out sleepers, and
35. forge rails, and devote days and nights to the work, but go to tinkering upon our lives to improve
36. them, who will build railroads? And if railroads are not built, how shall we get to heaven in
38. But if we stay at home and mind our business, who will want railroads? We do not ride on the
39. railroad; it rides upon us. Did you ever think what those sleepers are that underlie the railroad?
40. Each one is a man, an Irishman, or a Yankee man. The rails are laid on them, and they are
41. covered with sand, and the cars run smoothly over them. ...And when they run over a man that is
42. walking in his sleep, a supernumerary sleeper in the wrong position, and wake him up, they
43. suddenly stop the cars, and make a hue and cry about it, as if this were an exception. I am glad
44. to know that it takes a gang of men for every five miles to keep the sleepers down and level in
45. their beds as it is, for this is a sign that they may sometime get up again.
Thoreau, Henry David. Walden; Or, Life in the Woods. Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1854. Xroads.virginia.edu. University of Virginia American Studies, Oct. 1998. Web. 26 Apr. 2016.
Which pair of words most accurately represents the author’s main idea in the passage?