William Dunbar is a poet whose great works are often praised yet rarely analysed. This chapter introduces readers to Dunbar, the makar; his works, his striking alterations of moods, his style and his language. This ‘Pompeii of British poetry’ wrote many serious, light-hearted and humorous poems, some of which are of high quality and displayed discrepant and morally inclined viewpoints. In this chapter, several of his poems are introduced, displaying his brilliance as a makar. He does not take himself seriously as a poet but his serious and comic poems that displayed verbal energy and peculiar excellence are remarked on by critics. His comic poems are elegantly crafted – even the most vulgar – and his refined poems never cease to catch the attention of the readers. Dunbar defeats easy, simple formulations: he is courtly and popular, literary but not bookish, intensely Scottish yet a master of the English language.
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