— 2011 — Dec 6

Pangur Bán

by Anton Schwartz

Of all my compositions, the one that draws the most comments and questions is Pangur Bán. I’ve never recorded it, but I’ve been performing it off and on for some years now.
[UPDATE: I finally recorded it in 2014! It’s on my Flash Mob CD, or you can watch this old Yoshi’s performance on YouTube.]
I named it after a poem written in the 9th century by an anonymous Irish Monk. As I’ve explained at gigs now and then, the name is a groaner of a pun: the song’s harmony is Irish and its melody is (Thelonious) Monk-ish. But I really do love the poem. The original is in Old Irish, but here’s an excerpted translation into modern English by Robin Flower:

Pangur Bán

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 and in our bliss,
I have mine and he has his.

2 Responses

  1. Diane Reed says:

    Great poem. Our cats would consider what they do to be their JOBS as well as their bliss. Because cats only do what they consider to be important which by its very nature pleases them!!

  2. Jan Mancuso says:

    Always loved the Monk-ish flavor of your tune and, now, to know there’s fur involved, even better! Do hope you will record this sometime.

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