Image by Elias Holmquist

Pangur Bán (sometimes also known as “The Scholar and His Cat” or “The Monk and His Cat”) is an anonymously-written Old Irish poem from the ninth century. It is from the perspective of a monk hard at work copying manuscripts. While he does this, he watches his cat chase mice. The poem likens the monk’s work to the cat’s work – Pangur Ban watches for mice to come out of the wall, the monk focuses on the page; Pangur Ban and the monk take equal joy out of killing a mouse and succeeding in work respectively. The original manuscript in which the poem can be found is now housed at the monastery of St. Paul in the Austrian state of Carinthia. You can find a translation of the poem by acclaimed Irish poet Seamus Heaney here.

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