Pangur Ban

Chickadee adores the movie Secret of Kells…and as kismet would make it, I ran across a blog post that reminded me of the true depth of its mythology references and imagery. The movie has sparked many a discussion on history, religion, and culture in our family. And, you know, its just beautiful animation and music!

The song is about the cat Pangur Ban (both kids want a white cat next, which they plan to name Pangur Ban…which thwarts my plan of Jellicle Cat and Pollicle Dog), and is Chickadee’s favorite song from the movie. Coincidentally (or not, I tend to think it was incredibly intentional), the kitty in the movie is named after the cat in a poem written by an unknown 9th century Irish monk.

Pangur Ban

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 task 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 task 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.

tr. attributed to Robert Flower, though I’ve not been able to difinitively source this
(here you can learn a bit more about the document where the poem was found)
(two other translations…I prefer the one by Eavan Boland)


About thalassa

Occasionally doting wife, damn proud momma of two adorable children, veteran of the United States Navy, semi-steampunk bohemian beach addict from middle America, Civil War reenactor and Victorian natural history aficionado, canoeing and kayaking and paddleboarding fanatic, Unitarian Universalist and pantheistic Pagan, devotee of various aquatic deities, and practitioner of bioregional witchery View all posts by thalassa

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