1. peepswitch:

(via Twitter / erik_kwakkel: Wow, 1500 followers: thank …)
Ink cat pawprints in a 15th c. book. I was just wondering today if calligraphers of the past had problems with cats walking across wet ink and ruining things.

This reminds me of the 9th century Old Irish poem, “Pangur Bán,” about a monk working in a scriptorium and his cat, the eponymous Pangur Bán. Translation here is Seamus Heaney’s:


Pangur Bán and I at work,




Adepts, equals, cat and clerk:




       His whole instinct is to hunt,




       Mine to free the meaning pent.





More than loud acclaim, I love




Books, silence, thought, my alcove.




       Happy for me, Pangur Bán




       Child-plays round some mouse’s den.





Truth to tell, just being here,




Housed alone, housed together,




       Adds up to its own reward:




       Concentration, stealthy art.





Next thing an unwary mouse




Bares his flank: Pangur pounces.




       Next thing lines that held and held




       Meaning back begin to yield.





All the while, his round bright eye




Fixes on the wall, while I




       Focus my less piercing gaze




       On the challenge of the page.





With his unsheathed, perfect nails




Pangur springs, exults and kills.




       When the longed-for, difficult




       Answers come, I too exult.





So it goes. To each his own.




No vying. No vexation.




       Taking pleasure, taking pains,




       Kindred spirits, veterans.





Day and night, soft purr, soft pad,




Pangur Bán has learned his trade.




       Day and night, my own hard work




       Solves the cruxes, makes a mark.

    peepswitch:

    (via Twitter / erik_kwakkel: Wow, 1500 followers: thank …)

    Ink cat pawprints in a 15th c. book. I was just wondering today if calligraphers of the past had problems with cats walking across wet ink and ruining things.

    This reminds me of the 9th century Old Irish poem, “Pangur Bán,” about a monk working in a scriptorium and his cat, the eponymous Pangur Bán. Translation here is Seamus Heaney’s:

    Pangur Bán and I at work,
    Adepts, equals, cat and clerk:
           His whole instinct is to hunt,
           Mine to free the meaning pent.
    More than loud acclaim, I love
    Books, silence, thought, my alcove.
           Happy for me, Pangur Bán
           Child-plays round some mouse’s den.
    Truth to tell, just being here,
    Housed alone, housed together,
           Adds up to its own reward:
           Concentration, stealthy art.
    Next thing an unwary mouse
    Bares his flank: Pangur pounces.
           Next thing lines that held and held
           Meaning back begin to yield.
    All the while, his round bright eye
    Fixes on the wall, while I
           Focus my less piercing gaze
           On the challenge of the page.
    With his unsheathed, perfect nails
    Pangur springs, exults and kills.
           When the longed-for, difficult
           Answers come, I too exult.
    So it goes. To each his own.
    No vying. No vexation.
           Taking pleasure, taking pains,
           Kindred spirits, veterans.
    Day and night, soft purr, soft pad,
    Pangur Bán has learned his trade.
           Day and night, my own hard work
           Solves the cruxes, makes a mark.

  2. For him that stealeth, or borroweth and returneth not, this book from its owner…let it change into a serpent in his hand and rend him. Let him be struck with palsy, and all his members blasted. Let him languish in pain crying aloud for mercy, and let there be no surcease to his agony till he sing in dissolution. Let bookworms gnaw his entrails in token of the Worm that dieth not, and when at last he goeth to his final punishment, let the flames of Hell consume him forever.

    — 

    A medieval-era monastic library’s curse against anyone who loses or steals a manuscript, as cited in The Swerve: How the World Became Modern by Stephen Greenblatt.

    And you thought library fines could be bad…

    (via thepinakes)