Marie Tonkin is a Swedish-British poet. During the last three years she has published four books of poems; the latest being Den dyrbaraste färgen eller Vad Hendrickje sa till Rembrandt (Black Island Books, 2022). Marie Tonkin has also translated poetry, for example Pärlor ur min krona; a selection of poems by German-Jewish Else Lasker-Schüler (Lejd, 2022). Marie Tonkin lives outside Stockholm.

Below are poems in English translation.

To me you were exile and the taste of salt

when the shuttle in the weave suddenly

stops – turned away face; tune of a Spring bird;

prey caught in the game.

With my fingers I follow your

silent carnivore glance.

You are the gap between sorrow and dream,

like when the heron lifts from the mist.

If the home-coming you sought for

was fragmentary and roving;

if we stood in the rim of the forest gasping

and a wild roar was quieted

in the air like glass –

every street in me still carries your name,

the whole city mortgaged

out into the last sea blue vault of darkness.

My time is a whirlwind, but I am for you,

overcome by fire in the night.

Silver och eld (Silentium skrifter, 2020)


That is mountain blue, he said,

the most precious colour.

It is transported along distant routes

and must be kept for the moments

when the valley beside your temple turns blue.

I am not well-off enough to use it often,

but then I do it anyway:

lapis lazuli grounded on the stone slab.

What is to become of us?

Den dyrbaraste färgen (Black Island Books, 2022)

Mother of Tenderness


Mary, I live in a corner of the world,

where the metro rocks in at the last station:

the concrete walls up estrangement.

Today I am reminded of it,

in a room with Spanish rhythms;

the meringe cake and the coffee:

      A secret, bright and heavy:

      you will bear the King of glory.

The chestnuts snow kisses on the asphalt;

pierced – they are like the eyes on the wall:

Mother of Tenderness,

there our longing journeys

through drowsed starry skies

in two gondolas.


Pyramids in paradise (Skosnöret, 2012)

Ode to Wisdom


Walk with light steps through my hours,

you whose radiant eyes no night embezzles.


You are heaven’s and earth’s

kiss through ice and hard buds.


Your voice is weightless like the cuckoo’s call

or Mozart’s flutes, raised like spears.


You are the one returning from the battlefield

years after your ashes were buried,


you who believe in devastation

that someone returns.


In your right hand a darkened cathedral

raises from the flames.


You are the smile, laid like a silver sky

over brown field grass.



Silver och eld (Silentium skrifter, 2020)