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My desk, lap, bookshelves are draped with feline furriness. It is the way around here.

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Surrounded by such inspiration, I thought I would step into my way-back machine, indulge my inner medievalist, and share the tale of Pangur Bán and his person.

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Back in the 9th century, an unnamed Irish monk at Reichenau Abbey took a break from his usual monastic labors to pen a paean to his purry companion, Pangur Bán – White Pangur.

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Pangur Bán – trans. by Robin Flower

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.

000KellsLibroPangur Bán

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

Caraimse fos, ferr cach clú
oc mu lebrán, léir ingnu;
ní foirmtech frimm Pangur bán
caraid cesin a maccdán

Ó ru biam, scél gan scís
innar tegdais, ar n-óendís,
táithiunn, díchríchide clius
ní fris tarddam ar n-áthius

Gnáth, húaraib, ar gressaib gal
glenaid luch inna línsam;
os mé, du-fuit im lín chéin
dliged ndoraid cu ndronchéill

Fúachaidsem fri frega fál
a rosc, a nglése comlán;
fúachimm chéin fri fégi fis
mu rosc réil, cesu imdis.

Fáelidsem cu ndéne dul
hi nglen luch inna gérchrub;
hi tucu cheist ndoraid ndil
os mé chene am fáelid.

Cia beimmi a-min nach ré
ní derban cách a chéile
maith la cechtar nár a dán;
subaigthius a óenurán

Hé fesin as choimsid dáu;
in muid du-ngní cach óenláu;
du thabairt doraid du glé
for mu muid céin am messe.

Recently, the character of Pangur has been transported into the modern world in the wonderful 2009 animated film, The Secret of Kells.

If you haven’t seen it, do.

But first, hug your four-footed friends close, and remember: Everything goes better with cats.

Carterolder

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