Monday, July 17, 2006


A Scholar and His Cat

Last year I posted three translations of a medieval Irish poem about a scholar and his cat. I just happened upon a fourth translation of the same poem, from Alfred Perceval Graves' A Celtic Psaltery:
Pangar, my white cat, and I
  Silent ply our special crafts;
Hunting mice his one pursuit,
   Mine to shoot keen spirit shafts.

Rest, I love, all fame beyond,
  In the bond of some rare book;
Yet white Pangar from his play
  Casts, my way, no jealous look.

Thus alone within one cell
  Safe we dwell -- not dull the tale --
Since his ever favourite sport
  Each to court will never fail.

Now a mouse, to swell his spoils,
  In his toils he spears with skill;
Now a meaning deeply thought
  I have caught with startled thrill.

Now his green full-shining gaze
  Darts its rays against the wall;
Now my feebler glances mark
  Through the dark bright knowledge fall.

Leaping up with joyful purr,
  In mouse fur his sharp claw sticks,
Problems difficult and dear,
  With my spear I, too, transfix.

Crossing not each other's will,
  Diverse still, yet still allied,
Following each his own lone ends,
  Constant friends we here abide.

Pangar, master of his art,
  Plays his part in pranksome youth;
While in age sedate I clear
  Shadows from the sphere of Truth.

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