Sunday, February 14, 2016

Sunday Poetry - Pangur Bán

I love this poem which combines books & cats. It's Pangur Bán, a poem written by an Irish monk in the 9th century. It was discovered written on a manuscript & celebrates the life of a scholar monk & his cat, Pangur Bán. I came across this poem again recently at a website called Interesting Literature, in a post about 10 classic poems about cats. I've signed up for the regular emails from the site which highlights interesting facts about a writer or a poem. This translation of  Pangur Bán is by Eavan Boland.

Myself and Pangur, cat and sage
Go each about our business;
I harass my beloved page,
He his mouse.

Fame comes second to the peace
Of study, a still day
Unenvying, Pangur's choice
Is child's play.

Neither bored, both hone
At home a separate skill
Moving after hours alone
To the kill

When at last his net wraps
After a sly fight
Around a mouse; mine traps
Sudden insight.

On my cell wall here,
His sight fixes, burning,
Searching; my old eyes peer
At new learning,

And his delight when his claws
Close on his prey
Equals mine when sudden clues
Light my way.

So we find by degrees
Peace in solitude,
Both of us, solitaries,
Have each the trade

He loves: Pangur, never idle
Day or night
Hunts mice; I hunt each riddle
From dark to light.


  1. Loved the poem and even better your link to the sight it came from.

    1. The Interesting Literature site is great. I get an email every time there's a new post. It's perfect if you love poetry.

  2. Each of us pursues his trade,
    I and Pangur my comrade,
    His whole fancy on the hunt,
    And mine for learning ardent.

    More than fame I love to be
    Among my books and study,
    Pangur does not grudge me it,
    Content with his own merit.

    A great poem--this is the translation I have of it. If you are interested in the full translation, go to the link to my blog listed below:

    1. Thanks for the link, Fred. I've seen a few different translations of the poem. It's so good humoured & affectionate. I can imagine having similar conversations with my cats.

  3. Lovely poem. Interesting Literature is a great site!

    1. IL is always worth reading. I love getting their emails every day.

  4. I've read this poem before and I love it. I love the photos of your cats, too.

    1. Thanks Joan. Lucky & Phoebe are enjoying the slightly milder summer weather at the moment. We're all hoping it lasts!