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  • Writer's picturePangur's Teacup

Who is Pangur?

It has long been an established fact that writers love cats. I never realized how far back this relationship between scribe and feline went. Several years ago when looking through some poetry selections for a British literature class, I stumbled across an old poem from the 9th century entitled Pangur Ban. It was written by an unknown Irish monk and found in a manuscript at Reichenau Abbey.

There is a lovely companionship between the monk and his cat expressed in the poem. While my cat is mostly a lazy hunter, when she sits with me while I read, I feel like I have my own Pangur Ban. While my cat is mostly a lazy hunter, when she sits with me while I read, I feel like I have my own Pangur Ban.

Here are some other cat themed books I would recommend, along with a cup of tea to go with it.

Tea: In honor of Pangur Ban’s Irish background, Green Meadows from the Dollar Tea Club is this blog’s featured tea. It is a green tea mixed with green candy pieces and blue cornflower leaves. The ingredient “natural flavors” includes chocolate, coffee, and vanilla, with the citrusy aroma of bergamot (as in Earl Grey) dominating. This brews to a lovely green hue, and makes a wonderful iced tea for the remaining hot summer days.

Fiction: On the bargain table of my local bookstore was The Book of Celtic Verse: A Treasury of Poetry, Dreams & Visions edited by John Matthews. This is where I first came across the poem, “Pangur Ban”. The compilation is organized into sections by theme, with the poems presented in chronological order from the oldest to the most recent. There are selections from all the Celtic areas of the British Isles including Ireland, Scotland, Cornwall and Wales, as well as Brittany and Galicia in France and Spain. Infused with a spirituality and the love of nature, a few of my favorites, besides “Pangur Ban”, include “Heroes” and “The Eagle of Aeli”, both written in the 6th century but with a different view on war; and “The Deer’s Cry” also known as “St. Patrick’s Breastplate”, in which the anonymous author proclaims his reliance on God to help him face the dangers and difficulties of this world.

I arise to day

Through God’s strength to pilot me:

God’s might to uphold me,

God’s wisdom to guide me, . . .

(33-36, page 182)

Nonfiction: Dean Nicholson set off from his native Scotland with a friend to bicycle around the world. While still in Europe, his friend abandoned him, and he rescued an stray kitten in the mountains of the former Yugoslavia. At first thinking he would just bring it to the next animal shelter and continue on, Nicholson found he could not leave Nala, as he called her, and instead she became his companion on his journey. Initially a Youtuber, Dean focused his posts not only on the scenery, but the plight of abandoned animals. Through his blogs, he was able to raise money for many animal shelters. Unfortunately, his travels were sidelined due to Covid-19, and Nala’s World: One Man, His Rescue Cat, and a Bike Ride Around the Globe was published in 2020. Nicholson is still posting videos about Nala and their adventures.

Children’s Book: The Maine Coon’s Haiku and Other Poems for Cat Lovers is a cute collection of cat poems by Michael J. Rosen and illustrated by Lee White. All of the poems are written in the traditional Japanese poetic form of three lines consisting of just 17 syllables in a 5-7-5 line distribution. Each poem, beginning with “Maine Coon”, focuses on a particular breed of cat, centered around either indoor or outdoor activities. At the end of the book, there is further information about the types of cats. My favorite two poems, besides the “Maine Coon”, were “British Shorthair” who leaves paw prints on all of the cars, and “Abyssinian” who loves to sit in the middle of an open book.


Artwork credited to Aurora Draws - contact for more details

All photographs by the author

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