Tag Archives: Cats

Pangur Bán

11 Apr

Sometime in or around the 9th century, a monk wrote a poem, in Irish, in the margins of a manuscript in the Monastery of St Paul in Lananttal, Austria. The poem, entitled “Pangur Bán”, compares the life of the monk to the life of his white (bán) cat, Pangur. There have been many translations and Jo Ellen Bogart explains in the author’s note at the end of The White Cat and the Monk, that she has drawn on several of these for the text she uses in the book.


The simple text is elegant, distilling the poem’s ideas to language young readers can appreciate and enjoy. The book opens wordlessly as we follow the white cat into the monastery and the cell of the monk, to whom we are then introduced

“I, monk and scholar,

share my room

with my white cat, Pangur.

 By candle’s light, late into the night

we work, each at a special trade.

The monk goes on to compare and contrast his life and scholarly pursuits to the cat’s life and feline pursuits. And yet, in the end they are not so different. The final pages show the monk and cat, together at a window.

In our tiny home,

Pangur finds his mouse…

and I find light

in the darkness.

The illustrations are beautiful, modern, yet evoking a time and place long ago.


This is a quiet book, contemplative even, but I think  many young readers would enjoy it. I think it would make an excellent bedtime read aloud for people of all ages. You can hear the poem, read it is original Irish in the clip below, from Seamus Heaney’s Memorial Service.



Keeping an eye out for Buckley

27 May


My girls aren’t good with cats. Whenever I see one while we are out for a walk, I tighten my grip on the leashes, anticipating the barking and pulling about to come.

Friday morning, we saw a white kitty with a black cap & tail. The girls reacted predictably. As we rounded the last corner, though, I saw its picture tacked up on the telephone pole:


I mostly ignore these signs because I have never seen the advertised pets, but this time was different, so I tore off the tag with the phone number. When I got home, I was filled with doubts. Was it really him? Is 7 a.m too early to call? The sign said night or day; did Buckley’s family really men that? So I called & left a message detailing where & when I had seen Buckley and hoping I hadn’t just woken someone up.

I checked my phone a few hours later & there was a message from Buckley’s mom, Frances. She was appreciative of my message & would go check out his last known whereabouts.

That afternoon, the girls & I saw Buckley crossing the road near our corner. I called Frances again when I got home and actually spoke to her, giving more details than I had earlier. She said she’d been to the area & called his name, but he hadn’t shown up. I encouraged her to keep trying. I explained  how it would be impossible for me to walk the girls and pick up Buckley, but I’d do so if I was out without them & saw him. The tome of her voice made me really glad I’d called. She truly did appreciate hearing from me.

We haven’t seen him since Friday afternoon. I hope Frances and Buckley have been reunited. But I guess I’ll never know.

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