Pangur Bán is an 9th-century Old Irish poem believed to have been written at Reichenau Abbey in modern-day Germany by an Irish monk. The poem is about the author’s cat. The original Old Irish is taken from Irische Texte, Vol. 1 by Ernst Windisch in 1880, and an English translation by Robin Flower is taken from The Poem-Book Of The Gael published in 1912.
Messe ocus Pangur Bán, cechtar náthar fria saindán
bíth a menma-sam fri seilgg, nu menma céin im saincheiridd.
Caraim-se fos ferr cach clú, oc mu lebran leir ingnu
ni forimtech frimm Pangur Bán, caraid cesin a maccdán.
O ru biam scél cen scís, innar tegdais ar no-ocndís
taithiunn dichrichíde clius, ni fristarddam arnáthius.
Gnáth huaraib ar gressaib gal, glenaid luch inna lín-sam
Os mé dufuit im lín chéin, dliged n-doraid cu n-dhronchéill.
Fuachaid-sem fri frega fál, a rosc anglése comlán
fuachimm chein fri fegi fis, mu rosc reil cesu imdis.
Faelid-sem cu n-dene dul, hi n-glen luch inna gerchrub
hi tucu cheist n-doraid n-dil, os me chene am faelid.
Cia beimmi amin nach ré, ni derban cách a chele
caraid cechtar nár a dán, subaigthius a óenurán.
He fesin as choim sid dáu, in muid dun gní cach oen láu
du thabairt doraid du glé, for mu mud cein am messe.
English (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;
Ofentimes 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 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.