Poetry Corner: “For I Shall Consider My Cat…”

Worthy of your attention is this brief article at Early Modern England on names people gave their pets in the medieval and early modern periods. It’s interesting in itself, but I particularly love a poem mentioned along the way. It appears to have been written by an Irish monk at the monastery at Carinthia. The poem is called “Pangur Bàn”, which means “Fuller White”, and which was the cat’s name. I think I may have read the attached translation at some point in my childhood, but I wouldn’t swear to it. Either way, the translation (by Robin Flower) delights me. So…

Pangur Bàn

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.



About profmondo

Dad, husband, mostly free individual, medievalist, writer, and drummer. "Gladly wolde he lerne and gladly teche."
This entry was posted in Literature, Medievalia. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Poetry Corner: “For I Shall Consider My Cat…”

  1. bluesun says:

    Have you ever seen the film “Book of Kells”? A little Irish animated thing, great music, great art, and a cat named Pangur…

  2. Withywindle says:

    Tybalt, you ratcatcher, will you walk?

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