On the Fairy Road

An exploration of historic and modern Fairy beliefs, and more generally Irish-American and Celtic folk beliefs, from both an academic and experiential perspective.

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Pangur Bán

This is a translation I did in 2016, but I thought it would be fun to share here today. Its a well known 9th century Irish poem about a scholar and his cat called Pangur Ban. The following original Irish is from Stokes' 1903 Thesaurus Paleohibernicus; the English is my own.

Messe ocus Pangur bán,cechtar nathar fria saindán;

bíth a menma-sam fri seilgg,mu menma céin im saincheirdd

(Myself and Fair Pangur both of us with our tasks;

for his mind is on hunting, my mind on each separate art)

Caraim-se fós, ferr cach clú,oc mu lebrán léir ingnu;

ní foirmtech frimm Pangur bán,caraid cesin a maccdán

(I love the quiet, better than fame, and my book zealously I study

no envy against me has Fair Pangur he loves his own youthful skill)

Ó ru-biam ­scél cén scis ­innar tegdias ar n-oéndis,

táithiunn ­ dichríchide clius ­ ní fris 'tarddam ar n-áthius.

(Where we are adventuring without rest  here in our house,

the single pair we have unlimited feats of acuteness to apply against something)

Gnáth-huaraib ar greassaib galglenaid luch ina lín-sam

os me, du-fuit im lín chéindliged ndoraid cu n-dronchéill.

(Usually his furious attack catches a mouse up in his net:

 my eye, my own net, reaches a difficult concept that is well hidden)

Fúachaid-sem fri freaga fála rosc a nglése comlán;

fúachimm chéin fri fégi fismu rosc réil, cesu imdis.

(He sharpens his skill against these his eye is the perfect tool for this

I direct my clear eye, though very weaktowards sharpening knowledge)

Fáelid-sem cu n-déne dul,hi nglen luch ina gérchrub;

hi-tucu cheist n-doraid n-dil,os mé chene am fáelid.

(He rejoices with his swift snaring Cleaving a mouse in his sharp claws

I grasp a question, difficult, dear, and my mind in that time is happy)

Cia beimini amin nach réní derban cách a chéle;

mait le cechtar nár a dánsubaigthiud a óenurán.

(Even if we work thus every time neither hinders the other one;

good we each are at our skill rejoicing when alone)

Hé fesin as choimsid dáuin muid du-n-gní cach óenláu;

do thabairt doraid du gléfor mumud céin am messe.

(He himself is capable of the purpose at the work he does every single day;

to bring a dark thing to light at my own work, am I)

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Morgan has been a practicing witch since the early 90's with a focus on the Fairy Faith and fairylore. She has written over two dozen non-fiction and fiction books on topics related to Irish mythology, witchcraft, fairy folklore, and related subjects. Morgan has also taught workshops on these same topics across the United States and internationally. In her spare time she likes to study the Irish language in both its modern and historic forms.
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