Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Ancient Irish Poem To Make You Smile

 

I have been reading Thomas Cahill’s book How the Irish Saved Civilization, and I came across a delightful little poem, written in about the Ninth Century, in a monastery in Ireland. The young monk/poet/scribe had his pet with him, while he copied his manuscript.

I and Pangur Ban my cat,

‘Tis a like task we are at;

Hunting mice is his delight,

Hunting words I sit all night.

‘Tis a merry thing to see,

At our tasks how glad are we;

When at home we sit and find,

Entertainment to our mind.

‘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.

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.

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  1. Marjorie Reynolds Coolidge

    Thanks for sharing. Would you recommend the book? I’ve heard of it but never picked it up.

    • #1
    • September 28, 2020, at 11:34 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  2. RushBabe49 Thatcher
    RushBabe49

    Yes. It is pretty short. I’m not sure if it would tell you anything you don’t already know. I knew that the Irish monks preserved a lot of Western civilization when the Romans left. 

    • #2
    • September 28, 2020, at 11:58 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  3. Arahant Member

    RushBabe49: Ancient Irish Poem

    I was expecting something older when you said “Ancient.” Twelve hundred years ago is nearly modern. 😁

    • #3
    • September 29, 2020, at 2:09 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  4. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama ToadJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    The intensely beautiful animated movie The Book of Kells has this weird and lovely scene with the cat Pangur Ban:

    • #4
    • September 29, 2020, at 2:52 AM PDT
    • 10 likes
  5. TBA Coolidge

    Arahant (View Comment):

    RushBabe49: Ancient Irish Poem

    I was expecting something older when you said “Ancient.” Twelve hundred years ago is nearly modern. 😁

    Yer just mad bc she didn’t cite you on your poem-thing. 

    • #5
    • September 29, 2020, at 3:18 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  6. Marjorie Reynolds Coolidge

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):

    Yes. It is pretty short. I’m not sure if it would tell you anything you don’t already know. I knew that the Irish monks preserved a lot of Western civilization when the Romans left.

    I don’t know very much unfortunately.

    • #6
    • September 29, 2020, at 3:59 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  7. Sisyphus Coolidge
    SisyphusJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Arahant (View Comment):

    RushBabe49: Ancient Irish Poem

    I was expecting something older when you said “Ancient.” Twelve hundred years ago is nearly modern. 😁

    She spared us by giving us a translation. The distance becomes more apparent when one is presented with the germanic Old English, the jumbled, irregular Church Latin, or the always impenetrable Celtic dialects. Even worked into rhyme in the modern language. Very pre-muctated.

    • #7
    • September 29, 2020, at 4:20 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  8. Arahant Member

    Sisyphus (View Comment):
    She spared us by giving us a translation.

    Messe ocus Pangur Bán,
    cechtar nathar fria saindán;
    bíth a menma-sam fri seilgg,
    mu menma céin im saincheirdd

    Caraim-se fos, ferr cach clú,
    oc mu lebrán léir ingnu;
    ní foirmtech frimm Pangur bán,
    caraid cesin a maccdán.

    Ó ru·biam — scél cen scís —
    innar tegdais ar n-óendís,
    táithiunn — díchríchide clius —
    ní fris tarddam ar n-áthius.

    Gnáth-húaraib ar gressaib gal
    glenaid luch inna lín-sam;
    os mé, du·fuit im lín chéin
    dliged n-doraid cu n-dronchéill.

    Fúachid-sem fri frega fál
    a rosc anglése comlán;
    fúachimm chéin fri fégi fis
    mu rosc réil, cesu imdis,

    Fáelid-sem cu n-déne dul
    hi·n-glen luch inna gérchrub;
    hi·tucu cheist n-doraid n-dil,
    os mé chene am fáelid.

    Cía beimmi amin nach ré,
    ní·derban cách ar chéle.
    Maith la cechtar nár a dán,
    subaigthius a óenurán.

    Hé fesin as choimsid dáu
    in muid du·n-gní cach óenláu;
    du thabairt doraid du glé
    for mu mud céin am messe.

    • #8
    • September 29, 2020, at 5:33 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  9. Sisyphus Coolidge
    SisyphusJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Sisyphus (View Comment):
    She spared us by giving us a translation.

    Messe ocus Pangur Bán,
    cechtar nathar fria saindán;
    bíth a menma-sam fri seilgg,
    mu menma céin im saincheirdd

    Caraim-se fos, ferr cach clú,
    oc mu lebrán léir ingnu;
    ní foirmtech frimm Pangur bán,
    caraid cesin a maccdán.

    Ó ru·biam — scél cen scís —
    innar tegdais ar n-óendís,
    táithiunn — díchríchide clius —
    ní fris tarddam ar n-áthius.

    Gnáth-húaraib ar gressaib gal
    glenaid luch inna lín-sam;
    os mé, du·fuit im lín chéin
    dliged n-doraid cu n-dronchéill.

    Fúachid-sem fri frega fál
    a rosc anglése comlán;
    fúachimm chéin fri fégi fis
    mu rosc réil, cesu imdis,

    Fáelid-sem cu n-déne dul
    hi·n-glen luch inna gérchrub;
    hi·tucu cheist n-doraid n-dil,
    os mé chene am fáelid.

    Cía beimmi amin nach ré,
    ní·derban cách ar chéle.
    Maith la cechtar nár a dán,
    subaigthius a óenurán.

    Hé fesin as choimsid dáu
    in muid du·n-gní cach óenláu;
    du thabairt doraid du glé
    for mu mud céin am messe.

    The impenetrable Gaelic it is, then.

    Interesting that rhymes appear to be either strong, full rhymes or missing. But I know from hard experience that the Gaelic correlation between actual and phonetic pronunciation can be dramatically remote. Not that English can’t be like that on any given night. 

    • #9
    • September 29, 2020, at 6:12 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  10. Arahant Member

    Sisyphus (View Comment):
    Not that English can’t be like that on any given night. 

    Years ago I encountered a poem, perhaps a sonnet, where the ending of each line had the O sound, but every line had a word that spelled it differently: …o, Oh!, …eau, etc.

    • #10
    • September 29, 2020, at 6:53 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  11. RushBabe49 Thatcher
    RushBabe49

    CB Toder aka Mama Toad (View Comment):

    The intensely beautiful animated movie The Book of Kells has this weird and lovely scene with the cat Pangur Ban:

    We have that movie! Time to watch it again! We just loved this, and we are adults with no kids. Who happen to love Japanese Anime, too. Thanks!

    • #11
    • September 29, 2020, at 9:57 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  12. RushBabe49 Thatcher
    RushBabe49

    When I went to bed at around midnight last night, I checked my post, and my last thought was “Where is @arahant?”.

    • #12
    • September 29, 2020, at 9:58 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  13. Arahant Member

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):

    When I went to bed at around midnight last night, I checked my post, and my last thought was “Where is @arahant?”.

    I was in the other world.

    • #13
    • September 29, 2020, at 10:01 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  14. RushBabe49 Thatcher
    RushBabe49

    I am going nuts on Ireland this year. I discovered author Frank Delaney, and I am reading all his books. I have one I just got and two still on order. I also found two blogs by Irish people that I have started following (courtesy of the WordPress Reader/Discover). If the world opens up its borders next year, I want to go there. I also have been reading Patrick Taylor’s “Irish Country” novels, which are just good fun.

    • #14
    • September 30, 2020, at 11:47 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  15. Boss Mongo Member

    This august crowd probably knows this, but some cat put all the poems entered in the margin of Irish monk text translations and copies into an opera, Carmina Burana. The most well known and popular, O Fortuna, inserted into the scores of countless action movies, is a story that is a medieval version of Luck Be A Lady. Heh. So it’s not a clarion call to stand, to fight, to see the mission or quest through. Instead it’s like blowing on the dice and hollering “baby needs shoes!” just before you throw.

     

     

    • #15
    • October 1, 2020, at 6:49 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  16. Percival Thatcher
    PercivalJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Boss Mongo (View Comment):

    This august crowd probably knows this, but some cat put all the poems entered in the margin of Irish monk text translations and copies into an opera, Carmina Burana. The most well known and popular, O Fortuna, inserted into the scores of countless action movies, is a story that is a medieval version of Luck Be A Lady. Heh. So it’s not a clarion call to stand, to fight, to see the mission or quest through. Instead it’s like blowing on the dice and hollering “baby needs shoes!” just before you throw.

     

     

    Excalibur

    • #16
    • October 1, 2020, at 7:08 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  17. RushBabe49 Thatcher
    RushBabe49

    While watching the special features that came with “The Secret of Kells”, we learned what Pangur Ban means. Whiter than white. The extras included the voice-actors recording and artists drawing. 

    • #17
    • October 1, 2020, at 9:44 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  18. RushBabe49 Thatcher
    RushBabe49

    Here’s the little guy.

    • #18
    • October 2, 2020, at 2:04 PM PDT
    • 4 likes