Pangur Bán

Ranked #242 on the list Best Poem of All Time

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About Pangur Bán

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"Pangur Bán" is an Old Irish poem, written about the 9th century at or around Reichenau Abbey. It was written by an Irish monk, and is about his cat. Pangur Bán, "white fuller", is the cat's name. Although the poem is anonymous, it bears similarities to the poetry of Sedulius Scottus, prompting speculation that Sedulius is the author. In 8 verses of four lines, the author compares the cat's activities with his own scholarly pursuits. The poem is preserved in the Reichenau Primer (Stift St. Paul Cod. 86b/1 fol 1v) and now kept in St. Paul's Abbey in the Lavanttal. A critical edition of the poem was published in 1903 by Whitley Stokes and John Strachan in the second volume of the Thesaurus Palaeohibernicus. The most famous of the many English translations is that by Robin Flower. In W. H. Auden's translation, the poem was set by Samuel Barber as the eighth of his ten Hermit Songs (1952-3). Fay Sampson wrote a series of books based on the poem. They follow the adventures of Pangur Bán, his friend, Niall the monk, and Finnglas, a Welsh princess. In the 2009 animated movie The Secret of Kells, which is heavily inspired by Irish mythology, one of the supporting characters is a white cat

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