The World Is – A poem by Jørgen Leth

Following his poetry reading at Le Port de Tête – last Tuesday – Jørgen Leth agreed to share one of his poems with us.


The world is just here
beyond the wall
and I am trying to pin down
the perfect human
in the space in which he moves.
Is he free?
Does he want something in particular?
Where does he walk around
what is he doing
how exactly is
he present?

All these questions
begin to insist
he becomes flesh and blood
he is a human being
endeavouring to take shape
trying to grasp things
and to move his own body
in sensible patterns
inside and out.

He is here, he says
some words, he is inquisitive
he has experienced something he is trying
to understand. He moves
his hand and his foot,
he takes off his jacket and puts it on,
this is the first lesson
always, together with smoking
a cigarette.

The perfect human
this is just something we say
hoping he can do
what we say he can,
just walk a little, say a few words
occupy the space
together with the woman
this is what we want
it is not too much
but it is enough.

Jørgen Leth
from Det gør ikke noget [It Doesn’t Matter] (2006) jørgen leth _ draft translations _ martin aitken 49/94