Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Why do we write? Because if we didn’t we wouldn’t true to ourselves. We hate the dry spells. Life gets in the way and we can’t write as often as we’d like to. The brain goes totally blank and we can’t come up with the words we need to save our souls or at least our sanity. And then I start to feel so empty because if I don’t write I’m not me.

It’s hard to believe, but this wonderful little poem was written in the eighth or ninth century by a Benedictine monk who also happened to be Irish. We don’t know his name but he lived in St. Paul’s Monastery on Reichenau Island in Lake Constance. The Irish church had more than a few religious who founded religious houses from Ireland to Italy. To be true to himself, the monk has to follow the bread crumb trail in search of spiritual truths that are food and drink to him. If he didn’t he wouldn’t be a writer. To be true to himself the monk’s furry room mate has to chase mice. If Pangur Ban didn’t chase mice he wouldn’t be a cat. 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.

Often times 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.

A wonderful little poem that has managed to survive for nearly twelve hundred years. I first came across this poem in May the Wind be at Your Back by Andrew Greeley. Granted if Pangur Ban doesn’t catch mice he’s not only not true to himself, he’s also going to get awfully hungry. Not quite true for his person.

Cross posted in Green Woman.


Lisa :-] said...

Isn't it funny how some things don't ever change...

Kathy said...

This is a wonderful little poem. I think it's one I can remember in a 'story way' when I'm thinking of writing and my somewhat needy skill set. lol