Saturday, April 26, 2008

Soft purr, soft pad

Adela muses on animals and/in literature, and offers the lovely ninth-century Irish poem "Pangur Ban" in a translation by Seamus Heaney:
Pangur Ban and I at work,
Adepts, equals, cat and clerk:
His whole instinct is to hunt,
Mine to free the meaning pent.

More than loud acclaim, I love
Books, silence, thought, my alcove.
Happy for me, Pangur Ban
Child-plays round some mouse's den.

1 comment:

  1. Ah, I prefer Auden's rendering:

    Pangur, white Pangur, How happy we are
    Alone together, scholar and cat
    Each has his own work to do daily;
    For you it is hunting, for me study.
    Your shining eye watches the wall;
    My feeble eye is fixed on a book.
    You rejoice, when your claws entrap a mouse;
    I rejoice when my mind fathoms a problem.
    Pleased with his own art, neither hinders the other;
    Thus we live ever without tedium and envy.

    Nice setting by Samuel Barber too, in case you haven't heard it ...