Sunday, February 28, 2010

Caledon Pangur Ban

No sooner had the ink dried on my initial observations of Numantia then I saw yet another new land mass: Caledon Pangur Ban. Aerial surveillance suggested that the area was nearly all water.

As one cannot be too careful about what lurks beneath the waves, I boarded the ironclad and steamed forth.

Indeed, the area was entirely aqueous, other than a small island. As I approached the island, however, it disappeared!*

* It turned out a brave Caledonian was experimenting with island-building. I felt better knowing that the explanation was other than (a) a Brigadoon-like temporary island, (b) an evil charm upon this new part of Caledon, (c) my eyes playing tricks upon me, or (d) my brain playing tricks upon me.

The name - undoubtedly chosen by our esteemed Guvnah - comes from an 8th century Irish poem, written by an unknown monk. "Pangur" is the name of the cat in the poem, and "Ban" means "white." Thus we have:

Pangur Ban

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 thing to see
At our task how glad are we,
When at home we sit and find
Entertainment to our mind.

Oftentimes a mouse will stray
Into 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 tasks 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.'

[Translation by Robin Flowers]


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