A Cool Cat From the Seventh Century

Continuing with the fun I had reading Tony Ellis’ book Walking to Canterbury. It’s a lot of scholarship about Chaucer and the Middle Ages interspersed with his account of his walk from London to Canterbury and the people he meets.

In his discussion of the Monk’s Tale, he points out that a monk’s life was not all sacrifice and suffering, quoting a seventh-century monk who loved his cat, Pangur Ban, so much that he wrote a poem about him:

I and Pangur Ban my cat,
‘Tis a like task we are at.
Hunting mice is his delight.
Hunting words I sit all night.
‘Tis a merry thing to see.
At our tasks how glad are we
When at home we sit and find
Entertainment to our mind.

‘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.

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.