Monday, October 24, 2011

Vladimir Solovyov

Vladimir Solovyov (1853—1900) is a Russian philosopher, mystic, poet, and literary critic. He had turned from the Orthodox church in his adolescence, but then reconverted when he was twenty. He was a complex character, drawn to over-arching ideas — sometimes repudiating his earlier writing.

He wrote of three visionary encounters with the Sophia (the Divine Wisdom) — one in childhood, one when studying in the British Museum, and the third when he followed her instructions to meet her in Egypt. These life-changing experiences are recorded in his best-known poem Tri Svidaniya (Three Meetings):
---------------Three times you gave yourself to my living sight —
---------------No phantom, no mere mind's flight —
---------------As omen, aid, and as award,
---------------Your image answered my stifled call.

He advocated what he called “Christian politics”, believing that an ideal society could be established under the pope and the czar; with this in mind, he worked extensively in the 1880s to unite the Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches.

He was a good friend of Dostoyevsky. and is said to be a model for Alyosha in The Brothers Karamazov. He also significantly influenced the following generation of Russian philosophers and symbolist poets.

The Eye Of Eternity

Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

Above white earth a single, single
-----Star burns
And draws one along a path of ether
-----To itself — there.

Oh, why is it so? In one steady gaze
-----All wonders dwell,
The mysterious sea of all life,
-----And the heavens.

That gaze is so close and so clear —
-----Behold it,
You, too, will be measureless and sublime —
-----Master of all.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. He is the award-winning author of the poetry collections Poiema (Wipf & Stock) and So The Moon Would Not Be Swallowed (Rubicon Press). They are both available at: