Irish - Pangur Bán

‘White Pangur’: A scholar and his cat

  1. I and white Pangur
  2. practise each of us his special art:
  3. his mind is set on hunting,
  4. my mind on my special craft.

  5. I love (it is better than all fame) to be quiet
  6. beside my book, diligently pursuing knowledge.
  7. White Pangur does not envy me:
  8. he loves his childish craft.

  9. When the two of us (this tale never wearies us) are
  10. alone together in our house,
  11. we have something to which we may apply our skill,
  12. an endless sport.

  13. It is usual, at times, as a result of warlike battlings,
  14. for a mouse to stick in his net.
  15. For my part, into my net
  16. falls some difficult rule of hard meaning.

  17. He directs his bright eye
  18. against an enclosing wall.
  19. Though my clear eye is very weak
  20. I direct it against keenness of knowledge.

  21. He is joyful with swift movement
  22. when a mouse sticks in his sharp paw.
  23. I too am joyful
  24. when I understand a dearly loved difficult problem.

  25. Though we be thus at any time,
  26. neither of us hinders the other:
  27. each of us likes his craft,
  28. severally rejoicing in them.

  29. He it is who is master for himself
  30. of the work which he does every day.
  31. I can perform my own work
  32. directed at understanding clearly what is difficult.

Translation from: Gerard Murphy, Early Irish Lyrics (Oxford, 1956), p. 3