Mar 5, 2010

Pangur Ban

photo via creative commons by Samantha Forsberg
For those of you who are not familiar with the poem Pangur Ban, I want to introduce to you to it. It's very popular and found in many books, including my Celtic Wisdom, Treasures From Ireland. It dates from the 8th or 9th century and was written by a monk who was probably taking a break from his regular duties. I love it because it shows the creativity and the humor of these people, like the Book of Kells. Have you ever seen the drawings of the mice in the Book of Kells? (I tried to find an online picture for you, but failed, sorry.)

©Cindy Thomson

So, for your pleasure, here it is, Pangur Ban (Which means White Cat.)

I and Pangur Ban, 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 Ban, 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.
Translated by Robin Flower


  1. Oh yes... I enjoy reading this one every time.

    Thanks for posting it =-)

  2. I'm just starting to follow you & your blog (altho I've visited before), Cindy, but loved the poem! Thanks for sharing!

  3. I've read this before; it's a neat poem. Seems like writers and cats have always had a special relationship.