Tuesday, March 13, 2007

I and Pangur Ban my cat

I've just been reading, and enjoying greatly, Thomas Cahill's How the Irish Saved Civilisation. In the chapter about the scribes and their manuscripts, he quotes this little ninth-century poem slipped in among Greek paradigms and a Latin commentary on Virgil.

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.
Another scribe, having just read the death of Hector in The Iliad, scribbled underneath,
I am greatly grieved at the above-mentioned death.

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