Pangur Ban

The family watched The Secret of Kells a couple nights ago, by recommendation of The Mockingbird Blog. Wow. The animation was really dazzling. Interesting story too. Not the usual fare. One of the best scenes is where Aisling the forest spirit helps the cat Pangur Ban sneak into the tower and steal a key to allow our hero to escape. It turns out that Pangur Ban is the name of a real cat and a poem written by an Irish monk in the 9th century, the same time the story is set. Various people have come up with translations. Here is the one the filmmakers probably had in mind.

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.