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.
trans. Robin Flower
Myself and Pangur
Myself and Pangur, my white cat,
have much the same calling, in that
much as Pangur goes after mice
I go hunting for the precise
word. He and I are much the same
in that I'm gladly "lost to fame"
when on the Georgics, say, I'm bent
while he seems perfectly content
with his lot. Life in the cloister
can't possibly lose it's luster
so long as there's some crucial point
with which he might by leaps and bounds
yet grapple, into which yet sink
our teeth. The bold Pangur will think
through mouse snagging much as I muse
on something naggingly abstruse,
then fix his clear, unflinching eye
on our lime-white cell wall, while I
focus, insofar as I can,
on the limits of what a man
may know. Something of his rapture
at his most recent mouse capture
I share when I, too, get to grips
with what has given me the slip.
And so we while away our whiles,
never cramping each other's styles
but practicing the noble arts
that so lift and lighten our hearts,
Pangur going in for the kill,
with all his customary skill
while I sharp-witted, swift, and sure
shed light on what had seemed obscure.
trans. Paul Muldoon
Here are the first two stanzas of the original - written in Irish in a German monastary in the 8th Century:
Pangur Bán (anon.)
Messe ocus Pangur Bán,
cechtar nathar fria saindan:
bíth a menmasam fri seilgg,
mu memna céin im saincheirdd.
Caraimse fos (ferr cach clu)
oc mu lebran, leir ingnu;
ni foirmtech frimm Pangur Bán:
caraid cesin a maccdán.