Pangur Bán

Pangur Bán is a 9th century poem written in Old Irish.  In the poem, the Irish monk compares his work with the antics of his white cat Pangur Bán, ‘white fuller’.  The poem can be found in the Reichenau Primer, which is kept at St. Paul’s Abbey in the Lavanttal in Austria.  The Secret of Kells also features a white cat named Pangur Bán who fled the island of Iona with his owner, a white haired monk, during the Viking invasions.

Several translations of the poem exist, with one such translation below.

I and Pangur Bán, my cat
‘Tis a like task we are at;
Hunting mice is his delight
Hunting words I sit all night.

Better far than praise of men
‘Tis to sit with book and pen;
Pangur bears me no ill will,
He too plies his simple skill.

‘Tis a merry thing to see
At our tasks how glad are we,
When at home we sit and find
Entertainment to our mind.

Oftentimes a mouse will stray
In the hero Pangur’s way:
Oftentimes my keen thought set
Takes a meaning in its net.

Cat&Mouse

‘Gainst the wall he sets his eye
Full and fierce and sharp and sly;
‘Gainst the wall of knowledge I
All my little wisdom try.

When a mouse darts from its den,
O how glad is Pangur then!
O what gladness do I prove
When I solve the doubts I love!

So in peace our tasks we ply,
Pangur Bán, my cat, and I;
In our arts we find our bliss,
I have mine and he has his.

Practice every day has made
Pangur perfect in his trade;
I get wisdom day and night
Turning darkness into light.

Anonymous

Wiki – Pangur Bán

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