A LOVE LETTER TO SERGEI by Pavel Florensky


Sergei Semionovich Troitsky

August 8, 1881 ~ November 2, 1910

Memory Eternal ~ Вѣчная Память

Friend and Intended Life-Companion (Спутник Жизни, “Husband”) of Pavel Alexandrovich Florensky

My meek one, my radiant one! Our vaulted room greeted me with coldness, sadness, and loneliness when I opened its door for the first time after my trip. But, alas, I entered it alone, without you. But you are not with me, and the whole world seems deserted. I am alone, absolutely alone in the whole world. 

Мой кроткïй, мой ясный! Холодомъ, грустью и одиночествомъ дохнула на меня наша сводчатая комната, когда я въ первый разъ послѣ поѣздки открылъ дверь въ нее. Теперь,—увы!—, я вошелъ въ нее уже одинъ, безъ тебя. Но нѣтъ тебя со мною, и весь мïръ кажется запустѣлымъ. Я одинокъ, абсолютно одинокъ въ цѣломъ свѣтѣ.

“I know he will rise on the day of resurrection, the last day.” Nevertheless, with a kind of tranquil grief, I repeat before our cross, which you made from an ordinary stick and which our gentle Elder blessed, I repeat, “Lord! If Thou hadst been here, my Brother would not have died.”

«Знаю, что воскреснетъ въ воскресенïе, въ послѣдный день». И все таки, съ какою-то умиротворенною мукой, повтворяю предъ нашимъ крестомъ, который тобою сдѣланъ изъ простой палки, который освященъ нашимъ ласковымъ Старцемъ: «Господи! если бы ты былъ здѣсь, не умеръ бы Братъ мой».

My Brother! You who share my soul. Torn away and lonely, I am nevertheless with you. Rising above time, I see your clear gaze; once again, I speak to you face to face. It is for you that I write down my discontinuous thoughts. On quiet autumn nights, in holy hours of silence, when a tear of rapture sparkles on my eyelashes, I will secretly begin to write down for you schemata and pitiful fragments of those questions which we so often discussed together.

Братъ, едино-душный мой Братъ! И оторванный, и одинокïй—я все-таки съ тобою. Подымаясь надъ временемъ, вижу ясный твой взглядъ, снова лицомъ къ лицу говорю съ тобою. Для тебя думаю писать свои прерывистыя строки. Глухими осенними ночами, въ святые часы молчанïя, когда на рѣсницахъ заискрится слеза восморга, украдкою стану писать тебѣ схемы и жалкïе обрывки тѣхъ вопросовъ, которые мы столько обсуждали съ тобою.

And I, after all, am nothing more than a pupil who repeats after you the lessons of love.

А я, вѣдь,—не болѣе какъ ученикъ вторящïй за тобою уроки любви.

P.A. Florensky/П.А. Флоренский


Florensky composed the original version of the dedicatory love letter from which these excerpts are taken in the autumn of 1907 when he returned alone to Moscow to complete his master’s thesis, leaving Troitsky behind with the Florensky family in Tbilisi. Seven years later, when preparing his thesis for publication as The Pillar and Ground of the Truth, he made revisions in the dedication—now renamed “Two Worlds”—to reflect the fact of Troitsky’s death. Yet he still begins with a description of his solitary return, at a time when Troitsky was still alive, to the dormitory room that they had shared at the Moscow Theological Academy until Troitsky’s graduation in the spring of 1907.

Florensky writes of feeling “absolutely alone in the whole world” despite being a married priest and the father of his first child when Pillar and Ground went to press in 1914.

Excerpts from:

Florensky, Father Pavel. The Pillar and Ground of the Truth: An Essay in Orthodox Theodicy in Twelve Letters. Translated by Boris Jakim. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997.

Флоренский, Свящ. Павел. Столпъ и Утвержденіе Истины: Опытъ Православной  Ѳеодицеи въ Двѣнадцати Письмахъ. Westmead, Farnborough, Hants., England: Gregg  International Publishers Limited, 1970. (Facsimile of the 1914 original.)

For more on the relationship between Pavel Florensky and Sergei Troitsky, and its significance for theological and pastoral questions of same-sex love in our time, see the following:
Conjugal Friendship (Public Orthodoxy)
Erasing Sergei (Orthodoxy in Dialogue)
Excerpts from ‘Two Worlds,’ ‘Friendship,’ and ‘Jealousy’ (Orthodoxy in Dialogue)
The Vocabulary of Conjugal Friendship (Orthodoxy in Dialogue)
Pavel Florensky: Early Religious Writings 1903-1909 (Orthodoxy in Dialogue)
Father Pavel Florensky and the Sacrament of Love (The Wheel)
A Brief Response to Luis Salés (Orthodoxy in Dialogue)