“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately …”

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.

I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary.  I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms …

— from Henry David Thoreau’s Walden

 

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“Eat, drink, and be merry …”

So a couple of friends of mine were chatting today about some of the more troubling developments abroad (hint: Russia, North Korea), and my friend Michelle invoked the expression, “Eat, drink and be merry.”

It was a reference to the oft-quoted “Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we may die.”

I always thought that the line came from William Shakespeare.  (It sounds Shakespearian, doesn’t it?)

But a little research set me straight. (You guys know I am weirdly OCD about these things.)  Like “Oh, how the mighty have fallen,” another saying that I thought was the Bard’s, it is actually derived from the Bible.

It’s a conflation of two Biblical quotes.  The first is Ecclesiastes 8:15: “Then I commended mirth, because a man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry.”  The second is Isaiah 22:13, “Let us eat and drink; for tomorrow we shall die.”

And, hey … while we are on the subject of my own feckless assumptions, here’s another one that turned up on a webpage devoted to falsely attributed quotes — Henry David Thoreau never said “An unexamined life is not worth living.”  That’s a loose translation of something Socrates told us.

Madonna actually included that quote in one of her songs back in the 80’s.  I’m willing to bet she knew where it came from.  So Madonna understands literary references better than I do.

Anyway, you learn something new every day.

“I am grateful for what I have. My Thanksgiving is perpetual.”

— Henry David Thoreau

Happy Thanksgiving to all who are reading this, both near and far!

 

Men,_women_and_children_eating_lunch_at_harvest_time,_Little_Smoky,_Alberta_(21438944463)

Photo credit: “Men, women and children eating lunch at harvest time, Little Smoky, Alberta,” by Provincial Archives of Alberta – Men, women and children eating lunch at harvest time, Little Smoky, Alberta. Licensed under No restrictions via Wikimedia Commons.

“And not, when I had come to die, discover that I had not lived.”

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms.”

— from Henry David Thoreau’s “Walden”

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