In recent weeks, while typing up scores of quotations from Thoreau on the nature of writing, I started reading some essays by Seamus Heaney.  The first one began talking about finding your voice as a writer, finding the words to express yourself, and then I see that I had marked this quotation by Thoreau.

Yes, I am still working hard, and haven’t quite acquired my language yet.

‘How hard one must work in order to acquire his language, – words by which to express himself.’  29 August 1858

Source: Henry David Thoreau, The Journal 1837-1861, Damion Searls (ed.), preface by John R. Stilgoe (New York: New York Review Books, 2009), p. 513

Photo credit: jarmoluk at


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest