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Wake Forest
University Press

Wake Forest University Press

Dedicated to Irish Poetry

Wake: Up to Poetry

"The act of poetry is a rebel act."

Poem of the Week: “Another Monk and His Cat” by Ailbhe Ní Ghearbhuigh

Image of a kitten sleeping on an open book

The final poem in Bone and Marrow/Cnámh agus Smior, “Another Monk and His Cat/Manach Eile agus a Chat” by Ailbhe Ní Ghearbhuigh, rounds out the anthology by harkening back to its opening poem, “I and White Pangur.” The latter is “[p]erhaps the most famous poem from medieval Ireland,” and Ní Ghearbhuigh’s contemporary interpretation of the subject matter provides insight into why that may be (37). There is some timeless appeal to the companionship between scholar and cat which transcends even the 1,200 years between the two poems. This poem invites contemporary readers to imagine a monk from the distant past “engaged in mischief of which we are too often guilty” and experiencing the same simultaneous frustration and amusement of their cat’s destructive nature which any cat owner, whether fr0m 1,200 years ago or today, knows all too well (943).


Another Monk and His Cat

The glory of God
Guides my quill

The Grace of God
The white parchment

The praising of God
The coloured word.

Trickery of the Devil—
The leap of the cat

Curse of the Devil—
The hand’s jink

Vengeance of the Devil—
Cat’s hair in the ink.


Ailbhe Ní Ghearbhuigh, translated by Alan Gillis, from Bone and Marrow (2022).


Manach Eile agus a Chat

Glóire Dé
A stiúrann mo pheann

Grásta Dé
An pár bán

Moladh Dé
An focal ildaite

Cleasaíocht an diabhail
Preabadh cait

Mallacht an diabhail
Sciorradh láimh’

Díoltas an diabhail
Fionnadh sa dúch.

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