An Irish Poem from the Middle Ages about Blogging

The following poem captures near perfectly a spirit and feeling I often get when I’m writing my blog entries for Tony’s Book World. The poem was written by an unknown Irish poet in the ninth century.   I found this poem in a book called “Lyrics of the Middle Ages” (1959) edited by Hubert Creekmore.   So with no further notes or footnotes except to mention ‘Pangur Ban’ is the name of the poet’s cat, here is the poem.


 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 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.


9 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Kelly S on October 14, 2012 at 5:00 AM

    That’s a nice-looking cat! And great poem. I’d never thought about writing that way, but it’s an apt comparison.


  2. Hi Kelly,
    Yes, the cat takes a good picture, despite that it could stand to lose a pound or two. The similarity between a cat catching a mouse and a writer finding the perfect word can not be overstated.


  3. Posted by acommonreaderuk on October 31, 2012 at 9:27 PM

    Wonderful. Cardinal John Henry Newman reads it here. I googled it to try and find another it reminded me of


  4. Posted by acommonreaderuk on October 31, 2012 at 9:30 PM

    PS – the “film” is an animation. I didn’t realise at first! I also didn’t know that the video would be embedded in your comment list!


    • Hi Tom,
      That is excellent the way you were able to embed that video right into your comment. That is an excellent accompaniment for the article, although it is kind of silly the way his mouth is animated to pronounce the words. Pangur Ban must be more famous than I thought it was to have its own video. I thought I had rediscovered it.


  5. Posted by acommonreaderuk on October 31, 2012 at 9:37 PM

    Sorry Tony – I’m plaguing you with comments. Do you know this one “For I Will Consider My Cat Jeoffry” ?

    Its a little similar to Pangur Ban


    • I guess I prefer the simple-minded and rhyming Pangur Ban. I try to appreciate modern poetry (not saying Jeoffry is modern poetry) but somehow free verse just doesn’t have the same staying power for me as rhyming poetry.


  6. Delightful! The duality is a perfect prism for understanding how our struggle with the arts does not change over time.


    • Hi Mike,
      Yes, the old line “The more things change, the more they remain the same.” applies. The writing game is much the same as it always was, even with the Internet. Thanks for stopping by.


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