Theosophy Canada - Edmonton Theosophical Society Theosophy Canada Founders

Om Symbol

Walt Whitman and Theosophy

Dudley W. Barr
The following talk by Dudley W. Barr, transcribed from a tape recording, was given at public meetings
of the Toronto and Hamilton Theosophical Societies in 1957. On those occasions he spoke without notes,
aided only by his well-thumbed copy of Leaves of Grass from which to quote. However, in preparing the
transcription, hardly any editing has been necessary.
Dudley Barr joined the Toronto Theosophical Society as a young man in 1918. From then until his death
in 1975 on his 80th birthday, he was an active member of that organization as well as the Canadian national
body. He edited the Toronto Theosophical News for many years, as well as The Canadian Theosophist from
1947 to 1964. He was also General Secretary of The Theosophical Society in Canada from 1960 to 1968. A
collection of his short articles, entitled Theosophy, An Attitude Toward Life, is published by the Blavatsky
Institute of Canada.
Walt Whitman’s poetry was highly prized by early Canadian Theosophists – students of Theosophy, as
they preferred to be called. Several of them were instrumental in founding the Canadian branch of the Walt
Whitman Fellowship in 1916. Among these were such Theosophical stalwarts as Flora Macdonald Denison,
Fred B. Housser, Roy Mitchell, Henry S. Saunders and Albert E.S. Smythe. Their activities on behalf of the
Fellowship are reported in Walt Whitman’s Canada, compiled by Cyril Greenland and John Robert Colombo.
Their enthusiasm for Whitman was caught by Theosophists of the following generation, of whom Dudley
Barr was an inspiring example.
Ted G. Davy