How we cite our quotes:
A written word is the choicest of relics. It is something at once more intimate with us and more universal than any other work of art. It is the work of art nearest to life itself. (Reading.4)
Here, Thoreau is essentially describing what he's trying to do with his book, which is both "intimate" and personal, and gestures toward the "universal" and collective. Shmoop is now thinking of changing its tagline: "Shmoop: the choicest of relics." Has a nice ring to it, don't you think?
Perhaps the facts most astounding and most real are never communicated by man to man. The true harvest of my daily life is somewhat as intangible and indescribable as the tints of morning or evening. (Higher Laws.7)
Here's why wisdom can't be taught: words just can't do it justice. It's something that you live on a deeply personal, even perhaps unconscious ("intangible and indescribable") level.
What I have observed of the pond is no less true in ethics […] Perhaps we need only to know how his shores trend and his adjacent country or circumstances to infer his depth and concealed bottom. (Pond in Winter.13)
This is one of Thoreau's more outlandish suggestions – have you ever tried to measure your "shores"? Hmmm... maybe that's the point.