Conscience is instinct bred in the house,
Feeling and Thinking propagate the sin
By an unnatural breeding in and in.
I say, Turn it out doors,
Into the moors.
I love a life whose plot is simple,
And does not thicken with every pimple,
A soul so sound no sickly conscience binds it,
That makes the universe no worse than ‘t finds it.
I love an earnest soul,
Whose mighty joy and sorrow
Are not drowned in a bowl,
And brought to life to-morrow;
That lives one tragedy,
And not seventy;
A conscience worth keeping;
Laughing not weeping;
A conscience wise and steady,
And forever ready;
Not changing with events,
Dealing in compliments;
A conscience exercised about
Large things, where one may doubt.
I love a soul not all of wood,
Predestinated to be good,
But true to the backbone
Unto itself alone,
And false to none;
Born to its own affairs,
Its own joys and own cares;
By whom the work which God begun
Is finished, and not undone;
Taken up where he left off,
Whether to worship or to scoff;
If not good, why then evil,
If not good god, good devil.
Goodness! you hypocrite, come out of that,
Live your life, do your work, then take your hat.
I have no patience towards
Such conscientious cowards.
Give me simple laboring folk,
Who love their work,
Whose virtue is song
To cheer God along.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Henry David Thoreau's poem Conscience

1 Comment

  1. Joseph says:

    Description of conscience:
    Conscience is inherent in man, having been made part of him by God. It is an inward realization or sense of right and wrong that excuses or accuses one. Hence, conscience judges. It also can be trained by the thoughts and acts, convictions and rules that are implanted in a person’s mind by study and experience. Based on these things, it makes a comparison with the course of action being taken or contemplated. Then it sounds a warning when the rules and the course conflict, unless the conscience is “seared,” made unfeeling by continued violations of its warnings. Conscience can be a moral safety device, in that it imparts pleasure and inflicts pain for one’s own good and bad conduct.
    Thoreau touches on the true meaning of conscience.

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