127 Inspiring Henry David Thoreau Quotes

Henry David Thoreau (July 12, 1817 – May 6, 1862) was an American author, poet, philosopher, abolitionist, naturalist, tax resister, development critic, surveyor, historian, and leading transcendentalist.

His quotes are powerful, they inspire you to take action on your dreams and be the best that you can be. May these quotes inspire within you the hope that you can live the life of your dreams.

Henry David Thoreau Quotes

A truly good book teaches me better than to read it. I must soon lay it down, and commence living on its hint. What I began by reading, I must finish by acting. — Henry David Thoreau

A truly good book teaches me better than to read it. I must soon lay it down, and commence living on its hint. What I began by reading, I must finish by acting. — Henry David Thoreau

After the first blush of sin comes its indifference. — Henry David Thoreau

After the first blush of sin comes its indifference. — Henry David Thoreau

Aim above morality. Be not simply good, be good for something. — Henry David Thoreau

Aim above morality. Be not simply good, be good for something. — Henry David Thoreau

All men are children, and of one family. The same tale sends them all to bed, and wakes them in the morning. — Henry David Thoreau

All men are children, and of one family. The same tale sends them all to bed, and wakes them in the morning. — Henry David Thoreau

All this worldly wisdom was once the unamiable heresy of some wise man. — Henry David Thoreau

All this worldly wisdom was once the unamiable heresy of some wise man. — Henry David Thoreau

An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day. — Henry David Thoreau

An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day. — Henry David Thoreau

An unclean person is universally a slothful one. — Henry David Thoreau

An unclean person is universally a slothful one. — Henry David Thoreau

As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives. — Henry David Thoreau

As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives. — Henry David Thoreau

Love must be as much a light, as it is a flame. — Henry David Thoreau

Love must be as much a light, as it is a flame. — Henry David Thoreau

As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness. — Henry David Thoreau

As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness. — Henry David Thoreau

Books are the treasured wealth of the world and the fit inheritance of generations and nations. — Henry David Thoreau

Books are the treasured wealth of the world and the fit inheritance of generations and nations. — Henry David Thoreau

Books can only reveal us to ourselves, and as often as they do us this service we lay them aside. — Henry David Thoreau

Books can only reveal us to ourselves, and as often as they do us this service we lay them aside. — Henry David Thoreau

Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves. — Henry David Thoreau

Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves. — Henry David Thoreau

Do not hire a man who does your work for money, but him who does it for love of it. — Henry David Thoreau

Do not hire a man who does your work for money, but him who does it for love of it. — Henry David Thoreau

Do not worry if you have built your castles in the air. They are where they should be. Now put the foundations under them. — Henry David Thoreau

Do not worry if you have built your castles in the air. They are where they should be. Now put the foundations under them. — Henry David Thoreau

Do what you love. Know your own bone; gnaw at it, bury it, unearth it, and gnaw it still. — Henry David Thoreau

Do what you love. Know your own bone; gnaw at it, bury it, unearth it, and gnaw it still. — Henry David Thoreau

Dreams are the touchstones of our character. — Henry David Thoreau

Dreams are the touchstones of our character. — Henry David Thoreau

Every creature is better alive than dead, men and moose and pine trees, and he who understands it aright will rather preserve its life than destroy it. — Henry David Thoreau

Every creature is better alive than dead, men and moose and pine trees, and he who understands it aright will rather preserve its life than destroy it. — Henry David Thoreau

Every generation laughs at the old fashions, but follows religiously the new. — Henry David Thoreau

Every generation laughs at the old fashions, but follows religiously the new. — Henry David Thoreau

Every man casts a shadow; not his body only, but his imperfectly mingled spirit. This is his grief. Let him turn which way he will, it falls opposite to the sun; short at noon, long at eve. Did you never see it? — Henry David Thoreau

Every man casts a shadow; not his body only, but his imperfectly mingled spirit. This is his grief. Let him turn which way he will, it falls opposite to the sun; short at noon, long at eve. Did you never see it? — Henry David Thoreau

Every people have gods to suit their circumstances. — Henry David Thoreau

Every people have gods to suit their circumstances. — Henry David Thoreau

Generally speaking, a howling wilderness does not howl: it is the imagination of the traveler that does the howling. — Henry David Thoreau

Generally speaking, a howling wilderness does not howl: it is the imagination of the traveler that does the howling. — Henry David Thoreau

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined. — Henry David Thoreau

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined. — Henry David Thoreau

Goodness is the only investment that never fails. — Henry David Thoreau

Goodness is the only investment that never fails. — Henry David Thoreau

How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live. — Henry David Thoreau

How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live. — Henry David Thoreau

I had three chairs in my house; one for solitude, two for friendship, three for society. — Henry David Thoreau

I had three chairs in my house; one for solitude, two for friendship, three for society. — Henry David Thoreau

I have a great deal of company in the house, especially in the morning when nobody calls. — Henry David Thoreau

I have a great deal of company in the house, especially in the morning when nobody calls. — Henry David Thoreau

I have always been regretting that I was not as wise as the day I was born. — Henry David Thoreau

I have always been regretting that I was not as wise as the day I was born. — Henry David Thoreau

I have learned, that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. — Henry David Thoreau

I have learned, that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. — Henry David Thoreau

I have never found a companion that was so companionable as solitude. We are for the most part more lonely when we go abroad among men than when we stay in our chambers. A man thinking or working is always alone, let him be where he will. — Henry David Thoreau

I have never found a companion that was so companionable as solitude. We are for the most part more lonely when we go abroad among men than when we stay in our chambers. A man thinking or working is always alone, let him be where he will. — Henry David Thoreau

I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by conscious endeavor. — Henry David Thoreau

I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by conscious endeavor. — Henry David Thoreau

I never found a companion that was so companionable as solitude. — Henry David Thoreau

I never found a companion that was so companionable as solitude. — Henry David Thoreau

I put a piece of paper under my pillow, and when I could not sleep I wrote in the dark. — Henry David Thoreau

I put a piece of paper under my pillow, and when I could not sleep I wrote in the dark. — Henry David Thoreau

I think that there is nothing, not even crime, more opposed to poetry, to philosophy, ay, to life itself than this incessant business. — Henry David Thoreau

I think that there is nothing, not even crime, more opposed to poetry, to philosophy, ay, to life itself than this incessant business. — Henry David Thoreau

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. — Henry David Thoreau

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. — Henry David Thoreau

I would rather sit on a pumpkin and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion. — Henry David Thoreau

I would rather sit on a pumpkin and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion. — Henry David Thoreau

If a man constantly aspires is he not elevated? — Henry David Thoreau

If a man constantly aspires is he not elevated? — Henry David Thoreau

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. — Henry David Thoreau

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. — Henry David Thoreau

If a man walks in the woods for love of them half of each day, he is in danger of being regarded as a loafer. But if he spends his days as a speculator, shearing off those woods and making the earth bald before her time, he is deemed an industrious and enterprising citizen. — Henry David Thoreau

If a man walks in the woods for love of them half of each day, he is in danger of being regarded as a loafer. But if he spends his days as a speculator, shearing off those woods and making the earth bald before her time, he is deemed an industrious and enterprising citizen. — Henry David Thoreau

If I seem to boast more than is becoming, my excuse is that I brag for humanity rather than for myself. — Henry David Thoreau

If I seem to boast more than is becoming, my excuse is that I brag for humanity rather than for myself. — Henry David Thoreau

If misery loves company, misery has company enough. — Henry David Thoreau

If misery loves company, misery has company enough. — Henry David Thoreau

If the machine of government is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, — Henry David Thoreauthen, I say, break the law. — Henry David Thoreau

If the machine of government is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, — Henry David Thoreauthen, I say, break the law. — Henry David Thoreau

If we will be quiet and ready enough, we shall find compensation in every disappointment. — Henry David Thoreau

If we will be quiet and ready enough, we shall find compensation in every disappointment. — Henry David Thoreau

If you can speak what you will never hear, if you can write what you will never read, you have done rare things. — Henry David Thoreau

If you can speak what you will never hear, if you can write what you will never read, you have done rare things. — Henry David Thoreau

Ignorance and bungling with love are better than wisdom and skill without. — Henry David Thoreau

Ignorance and bungling with love are better than wisdom and skill without. — Henry David Thoreau

In human intercourse the tragedy begins, not when there is misunderstanding about words, but when silence is not understood. — Henry David Thoreau

In human intercourse the tragedy begins, not when there is misunderstanding about words, but when silence is not understood. — Henry David Thoreau

In the long run, men hit only what they aim at. Therefore, they had better aim at something high. — Henry David Thoreau

In the long run, men hit only what they aim at. Therefore, they had better aim at something high. — Henry David Thoreau

In wilderness is the preservation of the world. — Henry David Thoreau

In wilderness is the preservation of the world. — Henry David Thoreau

Instead of noblemen, let us have noble villages of men. — Henry David Thoreau

Instead of noblemen, let us have noble villages of men. — Henry David Thoreau

It appears to be a law that you cannot have a deep sympathy with both man and nature. — Henry David Thoreau

It appears to be a law that you cannot have a deep sympathy with both man and nature. — Henry David Thoreau

It is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things. — Henry David Thoreau

It is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things. — Henry David Thoreau

It is an interesting question how far men would retain their relative rank if they were divested of their clothes. — Henry David Thoreau

It is an interesting question how far men would retain their relative rank if they were divested of their clothes. — Henry David Thoreau

It is never too late to give up our prejudices. — Henry David Thoreau

It is never too late to give up our prejudices. — Henry David Thoreau

It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about? — Henry David Thoreau

It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about? — Henry David Thoreau

It is only when we forget all our learning that we begin to know. — Henry David Thoreau

It is only when we forget all our learning that we begin to know. — Henry David Thoreau

It is the greatest of all advantages to enjoy no advantage at all. — Henry David Thoreau

It is the greatest of all advantages to enjoy no advantage at all. — Henry David Thoreau

It is what a man thinks of himself that really determines his fate. — Henry David Thoreau

It is what a man thinks of himself that really determines his fate. — Henry David Thoreau

It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see. — Henry David Thoreau

It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see. — Henry David Thoreau

Justice is sweet and musical; but injustice is harsh and discordant. — Henry David Thoreau

Justice is sweet and musical; but injustice is harsh and discordant. — Henry David Thoreau

Make the most of your regrets; never smother your sorrow, but tend and cherish it till it comes to have a separate and integral interest. To regret deeply is to live afresh. — Henry David Thoreau

Make the most of your regrets; never smother your sorrow, but tend and cherish it till it comes to have a separate and integral interest. To regret deeply is to live afresh. — Henry David Thoreau

Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after. — Henry David Thoreau

Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after. — Henry David Thoreau

May we so love as never to have occasion to repent of our love! — Henry David Thoreau

May we so love as never to have occasion to repent of our love! — Henry David Thoreau

Men have a respect for scholarship and learning greatly out of proportion to the use they commonly serve. — Henry David Thoreau

Men have a respect for scholarship and learning greatly out of proportion to the use they commonly serve. — Henry David Thoreau

Men have become the tools of their tools. — Henry David Thoreau

Men have become the tools of their tools. — Henry David Thoreau

Money is not required to buy one necessity of the soul. — Henry David Thoreau

Money is not required to buy one necessity of the soul. — Henry David Thoreau

Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them. — Henry David Thoreau

Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them. — Henry David Thoreau

Most of the luxuries and many of the so-called comforts of life are not only not indispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind. — Henry David Thoreau

Most of the luxuries and many of the so-called comforts of life are not only not indispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind. — Henry David Thoreau

Nature is full of genius, full of the divinity; so that not a snowflake escapes its fashioning hand. — Henry David Thoreau

Nature is full of genius, full of the divinity; so that not a snowflake escapes its fashioning hand. — Henry David Thoreau

Never look back unless you are planning to go that way. — Henry David Thoreau

Never look back unless you are planning to go that way. — Henry David Thoreau

Night is certainly more novel and less profane than day. — Henry David Thoreau

Night is certainly more novel and less profane than day. — Henry David Thoreau

None are so old as those who have outlived enthusiasm. — Henry David Thoreau

None are so old as those who have outlived enthusiasm. — Henry David Thoreau

Nothing goes by luck in composition. It allows of no tricks. The best you can write will be the best you are. — Henry David Thoreau

Nothing goes by luck in composition. It allows of no tricks. The best you can write will be the best you are. — Henry David Thoreau

Nothing makes the earth seem so spacious as to have friends at a distance; they make the latitudes and longitudes. — Henry David Thoreau

Nothing makes the earth seem so spacious as to have friends at a distance; they make the latitudes and longitudes. — Henry David Thoreau

Only that day dawns to which we are awake. — Henry David Thoreau

Only that day dawns to which we are awake. — Henry David Thoreau

Our houses are such unwieldy property that we are often imprisoned rather than housed by them. — Henry David Thoreau

Our houses are such unwieldy property that we are often imprisoned rather than housed by them. — Henry David Thoreau

Our inventions are wont to be pretty toys, which distract our attention from serious things. They are but improved means to an unimproved end. — Henry David Thoreau

Our inventions are wont to be pretty toys, which distract our attention from serious things. They are but improved means to an unimproved end. — Henry David Thoreau

Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify. — Henry David Thoreau

Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify. — Henry David Thoreau

Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake. — Henry David Thoreau

Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake. — Henry David Thoreau

Pursue some path, however narrow and crooked, in which you can walk with love and reverence. — Henry David Thoreau

Pursue some path, however narrow and crooked, in which you can walk with love and reverence. — Henry David Thoreau

Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth. — Henry David Thoreau

Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth. — Henry David Thoreau

Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all. — Henry David Thoreau

Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all. — Henry David Thoreau

Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it. — Henry David Thoreau

Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it. — Henry David Thoreau

Thank God men cannot fly, and lay waste the sky as well as the earth. — Henry David Thoreau

Thank God men cannot fly, and lay waste the sky as well as the earth. — Henry David Thoreau

That government is best which governs least. — Henry David Thoreau

That government is best which governs least. — Henry David Thoreau

That man is rich whose pleasures are the cheapest. — Henry David Thoreau

That man is rich whose pleasures are the cheapest. — Henry David Thoreau

The cost of a thing is the amount of what I will call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run. — Henry David Thoreau

The cost of a thing is the amount of what I will call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run. — Henry David Thoreau

The finest workers in stone are not copper or steel tools, but the gentle touches of air and water working at their leisure with a liberal allowance of time. — Henry David Thoreau

The finest workers in stone are not copper or steel tools, but the gentle touches of air and water working at their leisure with a liberal allowance of time. — Henry David Thoreau

The greatest compliment that was ever paid me was when one asked me what I thought, and attended to my answer. — Henry David Thoreau

The greatest compliment that was ever paid me was when one asked me what I thought, and attended to my answer. — Henry David Thoreau

The language of friendship is not words but meanings. — Henry David Thoreau

The language of friendship is not words but meanings. — Henry David Thoreau

The law will never make a man free; it is men who have got to make the law free. — Henry David Thoreau

The law will never make a man free; it is men who have got to make the law free. — Henry David Thoreau

The man who goes alone can start today; but he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready. — Henry David Thoreau

The man who goes alone can start today; but he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready. — Henry David Thoreau

The rarest quality in an epitaph is truth. — Henry David Thoreau

The rarest quality in an epitaph is truth. — Henry David Thoreau

The squirrel that you kill in jest, dies in earnest. — Henry David Thoreau

The squirrel that you kill in jest, dies in earnest. — Henry David Thoreau

The universe is wider than our views of it. — Henry David Thoreau

The universe is wider than our views of it. — Henry David Thoreau

There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root. — Henry David Thoreau

There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root. — Henry David Thoreau

There are certain pursuits which, if not wholly poetic and true, do at least suggest a nobler and finer relation to nature than we know. The keeping of bees, for instance. — Henry David Thoreau

There are certain pursuits which, if not wholly poetic and true, do at least suggest a nobler and finer relation to nature than we know. The keeping of bees, for instance. — Henry David Thoreau

There are moments when all anxiety and stated toil are becalmed in the infinite leisure and repose of nature. — Henry David Thoreau

There are moments when all anxiety and stated toil are becalmed in the infinite leisure and repose of nature. — Henry David Thoreau

There are old heads in the world who cannot help me by their example or advice to live worthily and satisfactorily to myself; but I believe that it is in my power to elevate myself this very hour above the common level of my life. — Henry David Thoreau

There are old heads in the world who cannot help me by their example or advice to live worthily and satisfactorily to myself; but I believe that it is in my power to elevate myself this very hour above the common level of my life. — Henry David Thoreau

There is always a present and extant life, be it better or worse, which all combine to uphold. — Henry David Thoreau

There is always a present and extant life, be it better or worse, which all combine to uphold. — Henry David Thoreau

There is danger that we lose sight of what our friend is absolutely, while considering what she is to us alone. — Henry David Thoreau

There is danger that we lose sight of what our friend is absolutely, while considering what she is to us alone. — Henry David Thoreau

There is no more fatal blunderer than he who consumes the greater part of his life getting his living. — Henry David Thoreau

There is no more fatal blunderer than he who consumes the greater part of his life getting his living. — Henry David Thoreau

There is no odor so bad as that which arises from goodness tainted. — Henry David Thoreau

There is no odor so bad as that which arises from goodness tainted. — Henry David Thoreau

There is no remedy for love but to love more. — Henry David Thoreau

There is no remedy for love but to love more. — Henry David Thoreau

There is no rule more invariable than that we are paid for our suspicions by finding what we suspect. — Henry David Thoreau

There is no rule more invariable than that we are paid for our suspicions by finding what we suspect. — Henry David Thoreau

There is one consolation in being sick; and that is the possibility that you may recover to a better state than you were ever in before. — Henry David Thoreau

There is one consolation in being sick; and that is the possibility that you may recover to a better state than you were ever in before. — Henry David Thoreau

They can do without architecture who have no olives nor wines in the cellar. — Henry David Thoreau

They can do without architecture who have no olives nor wines in the cellar. — Henry David Thoreau

This world is but a canvas to our imagination. — Henry David Thoreau

This world is but a canvas to our imagination. — Henry David Thoreau

Those whom we can love, we can hate; to others we are indifferent. — Henry David Thoreau

Those whom we can love, we can hate; to others we are indifferent. — Henry David Thoreau

Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in. — Henry David Thoreau

Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in. — Henry David Thoreau

To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts. — Henry David Thoreau

To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts. — Henry David Thoreau

To be admitted to Nature’s hearth costs nothing. None is excluded, but excludes himself. You have only to push aside the curtain. — Henry David Thoreau

To be admitted to Nature’s hearth costs nothing. None is excluded, but excludes himself. You have only to push aside the curtain. — Henry David Thoreau

To have done anything just for money is to have been truly idle. — Henry David Thoreau

To have done anything just for money is to have been truly idle. — Henry David Thoreau

True friendship can afford true knowledge. It does not depend on darkness and ignorance. — Henry David Thoreau

True friendship can afford true knowledge. It does not depend on darkness and ignorance. — Henry David Thoreau

Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison. — Henry David Thoreau

Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison. — Henry David Thoreau

We know but a few men, a great many coats and breeches. — Henry David Thoreau

We know but a few men, a great many coats and breeches. — Henry David Thoreau

We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aid, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn. — Henry David Thoreau

We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aid, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn. — Henry David Thoreau

 

We must walk consciously only part way toward our goal, and then leap in the dark to our success. — Henry David Thoreau

We must walk consciously only part way toward our goal, and then leap in the dark to our success. — Henry David Thoreau

Wealth is the ability to fully experience life. — Henry David Thoreau

Wealth is the ability to fully experience life. — Henry David Thoreau

What is called genius is the abundance of life and health. — Henry David Thoreau

What is called genius is the abundance of life and health. — Henry David Thoreau

What is human warfare but just this; an effort to make the laws of God and nature take sides with one party. — Henry David Thoreau

What is human warfare but just this; an effort to make the laws of God and nature take sides with one party. — Henry David Thoreau

What is once well done is done forever. — Henry David Thoreau

What is once well done is done forever. — Henry David Thoreau

What is the use of a house if you haven’t got a tolerable planet to put it on? — Henry David Thoreau

What is the use of a house if you haven’t got a tolerable planet to put it on? — Henry David Thoreau

What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lives within us. — Henry David Thoreau

What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lives within us. — Henry David Thoreau

What you get by achieving your goals is as important as what you become by achieving your goals. — Henry David Thoreau

What you get by achieving your goals is as important as what you become by achieving your goals. — Henry David Thoreau

Where there is an observatory and a telescope, we expect that any eyes will see new worlds at once. — Henry David Thoreau

Where there is an observatory and a telescope, we expect that any eyes will see new worlds at once. — Henry David Thoreau

While civilization has been improving our houses, it has not equally improved the men who are to inhabit them. It has created palaces, but it was not so easy to create noblemen and kings. — Henry David Thoreau

While civilization has been improving our houses, it has not equally improved the men who are to inhabit them. It has created palaces, but it was not so easy to create noblemen and kings. — Henry David Thoreau

You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. — Henry David Thoreau

You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. — Henry David Thoreau

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