December 14, 1840

in Thoreau’s Journal

Man lays down his body in the field and thinks from it as a stepping stone to vault at once into heaven, as if he could establish a better claim there when he had left such a witness behind him on the plain. Our true epitaphs are those which the sun and wind write upon the atmosphere around our graves so conclusively that the traveller does not draw near to read the lie on our tombstones. Shall we not be judged rather by what we leave behind us, than what we bring into the world? The guest is known by his leavings. When we have become intolerable to ourselves shall we be tolerable to heaven?