On the 8th Century Catbloggers

by F.

Catblogging is hardly new:

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.

The provenance of the poem is hard to determine, but it seems it was found in the margins of a manuscript from the Monastery of St Paul, Carinthia, Austria. It seems to have been written by an Irish monk, sometime around the 8th or 9th century. Pangur Ban means, apparently, “white cat.”

So picture this: it’s the year, say, 788 and a monk in Austria looks over at his cat and writes these lines in the book he’s working on.

Throughout the ages, human beings are human beings.

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