I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life . (See Important Quotations Explained) Thoreau recalls the several places where he nearly settled before selecting Walden Pond, all of them estates on a rather large scale.
and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.
He claims that a paradise fit for gods is available everywhere, if one can perceive it: “Olympus is but the outside of the earth every where.” Taking an optimistic view, he declares that his poorly insulated walls give his interior the benefit of fresh air on summer nights.
He justifies its lack of carved ornament by declaring that it is better to carve “the very atmosphere” one thinks and feels in, in an artistry of the soul.
He says outright that he resides in his home as if on Mount Olympus, home of the gods.
He claims a divine freedom from the flow of time, describing himself as fishing in its river.
He says it is no wonder that Alexander the Great carried a copy of the Iliad around with him on his military campaigns.
Thoreau also urges us to read widely, gently mocking those who limit their reading to the Bible, and to read great things, not the popular entertainment books found in the library.
He gives an almost mystical importance to the printed word.
The grandeur of oratory does not impress him as much as the achievements of a written book.