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What is Thoreau’s Most Famous Poem?

Scholars are well familiar with Thoreau Poems because they have been a vital part of modern education for a long time now. Born on July 12, 1817, in Concord, Massachusetts, U.S., Henry David Thoreau was not meant to live an ordinary life. Before becoming an ecological thinker, he started as a transcendentalist thinker heavily influenced by poet and mentor Ralph Waldo Emerson. Thoreau would later write inspired poems that the world would study for many years. In his short life – he died in 1862 – this poet would influence believers to shake the system by breaking the shackles of civil unfairness.

Here’s a little more about Henry Thoreau.

Early Life

Thoreau was born in Concord to John Thoreau and Cynthia Dunbar Thoreau, but the family moved out of the town a year later to return in 1823. In 1828, the young one was enrolled in Concord Academy, where he impressed his tutors with his sharp intellect that led them to start prepping him for college right away. Writings about philosophy show that he was a thinker from an early age. Thanks to scholars’ interest in this poet, there are many essay examples on him online. He went to Harvard from 1833 to 1837, during which time he preferred to use the library for his own purposes instead of following all the classes. He graduated in the mid ranks of his class.

Thoreau was a man in love with flowers. When his stay at Harvard ended, he went back to Concord, where he joined his brother, John, in teaching at his former school for only two weeks as he could not fathom the routines he was expected to follow. Every afternoon, the brothers would take their charges out for a stroll to enjoy their surroundings. The poet plucked a flower from the ground on one such adventure and asked a student to describe it. Thoreau then told the group that he had become so well-versed in flowers that he could tell by looking at one what season or month it was. Later, the two would start a school together that remained open until the poet’s death.

Literary Career

Thoreau’s career started when he met Ralph Waldo Emerson, who moved to Concord during the former’s education at Harvard. Emerson pulled his mentee into a literary movement, New England Transcendentalism, combining romanticism with reform. This movement would become one of the most influential in Europe and the rest of the world.

Transcendentalism intimated that reforms must come from individuals as opposed to masses or organizations. It favored individual to the masses, emotion to reason, and nature to man. Individual efforts were appreciated and seen as moving matters forward, even before they moved to the masses.

Walden Pond – Henry David Thoreau

In January 1842, John died of Tetanus, resulting in a period of grief and restlessness for Thoreau. He moved to New York and stayed at Emerson’s home for the better part of the time he spent away from Concord, but the city life didn’t suit him. He returned to Concord to work at the family pencil business. In 1945, an idea was born to build a cabin in the woods for meditation, and the author chose a spot on a glacial lake, Walden Pond, on land owned by Emerson. The cabin gave him somewhere to rest his grieving heart, and it was while there that he put together 18 of his most famous poems in Walden – Life in the Woods by Henry David Thoreau. His essays describe the simple life in the cabin, the small animals he encountered, and the meditation this space inspired. Emerson invited Thoreau back to his home in 1847 to stay with his wife and children while he was away in Europe, which marked the end of Thoreau’s cabin stay.

What is Thoreau's Most Famous Poem?

Later Life and Works

Emerson encouraged Thoreau to journal most of his poems, which he did before his death. In 1940, the two poets started a magazine, The Dial, that published Thoreau’s first poem, “Sympathy,” and several others later, together with some essays. In more than one essay published by the magazine, the poet would show his prowess in writing content that touched on nature.

Ellen Sewall, a beautiful woman that came to visit Concord, caught the eye of Thoreau, and she accepted his marriage proposal after he asked in 1940. She broke it off shortly following her family’s advice, and it must have broken the author because he remained a bachelor after that.


Walden is an immersive read, whether in high school or university. It takes you into the temporary home and mind of one of the greatest essayists, poets, and thinkers that ever lived. Even more interesting is the fact that it is not a difficult read.



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