Tuesday, March 20, 2007




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.


    -- Anon., (Irish, 8th century)


I first ran across this in Andrew Greeley’s May the Wind Be At Your Back. It’s a series of meditations on some Irish prayers and religious themed poems. This one is one of the latter ones. This little verse was found in the Monastery of Carinthia in the margins of a copy of Saint Paul’s epistles. The poem is sometimes also known as “The Scholar and His Cat.”


This Irish monk can no more not write than his cat can refuse to chase mice. A cat chases mice. To deny that is to deny the gifts of the Creator. Greeley writes as an Irish American. The joys and tribulations of being a writer and trying to remain not only in the Irish community but the religious community. (He’s a Jesuit, a sociologist, and a writer)


I think some of the long time members of the journal community are finding this is true. They may have to put the pen or keyboard aside for a little while simply because of pressures from family, illness, or work but they can’t stop for very long. Even if it’s a picture and the story that goes with it, they can no more give up writing than they can quit breathing, or Pangur Ban, whiskers twitching and tail held high, can let a mouse go by without pouncing.


tenyearnap said...

Pangur...that's a good cat name. And I guess it is true that even without these nifty cyber-journals, we'd still write.--Cin

toonguykc said...

Not being able to write would make me crazy.  Crazier, anyway.


hestiahomeschool said...

I've been keeping a journal since I was thirteen. I HAVE to write...