The h2g2 Literary Corner: The Monk and His Pet Cat

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This month, we've been praising Irish writers. This week, we reach back into the past for an old poem. Here it is, translated into modern English by Kuno Meyer, in his 1911 book, Selections from Ancient Irish Poetry.

Some things don't change. Here's an ancient Irish monk, telling us how he and his cat amuse themselves. Kind of sounds like your average computer geek, doesn't it?

The Monk and His Pet Cat

A very fluffy white Persian cat.
I and my white Pangur
Have each his special art:
His mind is set on hunting mice,
Mine is upon my special craft.
I love to rest – better than any fame! –
With close study at my little book:
White Pangur does not envy me:
He loves his childish play.
When in our house we two are all alone –
A tale without tedium!
We have – sport never-ending!
Something to exercise our wit.
At times by feats of derring-do
A mouse sticks in his net,
While into my net there drops
A difficult problem of hard meaning.
He points his full shining eye
Against the fence of the wall:
I point my clear though feeble eye
Against the keenness of science.
He rejoices with quick leaps
When in his sharp claw sticks a mouse:
I too rejoice when I have grasped
A problem difficult and dearly loved.
Though we are thus at all times,
Neither hinders the other,
Each of us pleased with his own art
Amuses himself alone.
He is a master of the work
Which every day he does:
While I am at my own work
To bring difficulty to clearness.
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Dmitri Gheorgheni

28.03.16 Front Page

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