Gunnar Ekelöf is one of the most prominent figures in Swedish poetry of the 1900s, whose legacy is widely known all over the world and translated into multiple languages. Ekelöf ’s writings have always been an object of major preoccupation for both readers and scholars in Scandinavian and other European countries. “Byzantine” trilogy
(Diwan-trilogin), also known as “acrit cycle”, consists of three collection of poems “Diwan on the prince of Emgion” (Diwan över Fursten av Emgion, 1965), “The Tale of Fatumeh” (Sagan om Fatumeh, 1966) and “The guide to the underworld” (Vägvisare till underjorden, 1967). The trilogy was mostly inspired by Byzantine history and art as well
as by the deep experience Ekelöf gained while travelling through Turkey in spring 1965. The trilogy, especially its third part, is an ultimate expression of Ekelöf ’s lifework and reflects the most important and profound themes that involved him deeply throughout his whole life. This article aims to describe origins of the trilogy, its literary style and
philosophical uniqueness, address the sources the author was working with as well as analyze the several aspects of collections’ composition. The main attention is paid to the third part, “The Guide to the Underworld” — the most complicated, rich with multiple allusions, self-citations and ekphrasis part of the trilogy where the Eastern theme is less obvious on the level of formal expression. A characteristic feature of its composition that stands out is repeated significant formulas, one of them being analyzed in the article and appearing in five different poems beginning with the wording “I do best alone at night” (“Ensam i tysta natten”). Ekelöf uses those poems as a possibility to speak openly and straightforward to the reader about the most important issues in his writings: time and eternity, life and death, the good and the evil, eroticism and mysticism as well as about the role of an artist in our modern world.