In the last weeks of his life, Yvan Goll was consumed with completing his poems inspired by “das Traumkraut” or the dreamweed. The poems appeared on every scrap of paper he could find—envelopes, prescriptions, newspaper margins—all written “with the tiny birds of his beautiful handwriting.” Poets of many nationalities, including the young Paul Celan, lined up to donate blood so that Yvan could finish his work. But after great suffering and a prolonged battle for his life, Yvan Goll succumbed to death on 27 February 1950. His body was finally laid to rest in the Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, opposite the grave of Chopin.
In these Dreamweed poems, death becomes Yvan Goll’s familiar, and love is his salvation in a winter world of pain. The snow creates a death mask for him. His body is no longer his body but a hostel for his ancestors’ bones; his heart is plundered for iron; his kidneys are meat for a bloodhound; his flesh is consumed by eternal fire. Yet wandering down the road to death and tumbling down the steps into the ocean of time, Yvan Goll, in the guise of Jean sans Terre, continues to seek and question. Ultimately it is love that sustains him as his earthly body crumbles to dust and his spirit rises from the confines of his hospital bed to soar freely among the stars in the vastness of eternal night.