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  • Sionnach! I have a t-shirt bearing an excerpt from this poem (secured at Trinity College)! Thanks for posting it here--don't believe I've ever seen the entire piece, and I love the phrase "turning darkness into light." :-)

    November 12, 2008

  • Pangur Bán is an Old Irish poem, written in the 8th century in the area of the Reichenau abbey by an Irish monk about his cat. Although the poem is anonymous, it bears similarities to the poetry of Sedulius Scottus, leading to speculation that he might have been the author (Greene and O'Connor 1967). Pangur Bán, "white waulker", is the cat's name. In 8 verses of four lines, the author compares the cat's activities with his own scholarly pursuits.

    Messe agus Pangur Bán,
    cechtar nathar fria shaindán:
    bíth a menmasam fri seilgg,
    mu menma céin im shaincheirdd.

    ********************************

    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.

    '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.

    November 12, 2008