William Dunbar

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William Dunbar
Statue of William Dunbar, Scottish National Portrait Gallery.jpg
Personal details
BirthEast Lowden 1460
DiedEdinburgh 1520
EddicationVarsity o Saunt Andras
Leids spokenScots
Thriftpoetan Catholic priest (en) Owerset
EmployerVarsity o Saunt Andras
ReeligionRoman Catholic kirk
Reeligious orderOrder of Friars Minor (en) Owerset

William Dunbar (c. 1460 − c. 1520), Scots makar, wis maist likely hameborn til East Lowden.

Life[eedit | eedit soorce]

Dunbar's name kythes in 1477 in the Register o the Faculty o Airts at Sanct Andrew's, amang the Determinants or Bachelors o Airts, an in 1479 amang the maisters o the varsity. Tharefter he jyned the order o Observantine Franciscans, at varsity o Sanct Andrews or Edinburgh, an gaed on tae Fraunce as a wanderin freir. He spent a few years in Picardy, an wis still abreed whan, in 1491, Bothwell's meesion tae siccar a bride for the young James IV o Scotland reached the French coort. Thon is nae direct evidents that he gaed wi Blackadder, heidbeeshop o Glesca, on a seemilar embassy tae Spain in 1495. On the ither haund, we ken that he gaed wi that prelate til England on his mair successfu meesion in 1501.

Dunbar haed in atween times (aboot 1500) returned tae Scotland, an haed becam a priest at the coort, an a ryal pensioner. His leeterar life begins wi his attachment tae James's hoosehauld. Aw that is kent o him fae this date til his daith aboot 1520 is derived fae the poems or fae entries in the ryal registers o peyments o pension an grants o livery. He is spoken o as the Rhymer o Scotland in the accoonts o the Inglis privy cooncil dealin wi the veesit o the meesion for the haund o Margaret Tudor, raither for he wrat a poem in praise o Lunnon, nor for, as haes been statit, he haud the post o laureate at the Scots coort. In 1511 he gaed wi the queen til Aiberdeen an commemoratit her veesit bi writin a poem aboot it. Ither pieces sic as the Orisoun ("Quhen. the Gouernour past in Fraunce"), apropos o the settin oot o the regent Albany, is o historical interest, but thay tell us little mair nor Dunbar wis alive. The date o his daith isna kent for shuir. He is named in Lyndsay's Testament and Complaynt of the Papyngo (1530) wi poets that wis deid at the time, an the reference foregangs that tae Douglas wha haed dee'd in 1522. He certies survived his ryal patron. We michtna be far oot in sayin he dee'd aboot 1520.

First printed obscenity[eedit | eedit soorce]

Dunbar haes the cuirious disteenction o haein been responsible for the first prentit uiss o the wird "fuck": his 1503 poem "Brash of Wowing" includes the lines: "Yit be his feiris he wald haif fukkit:/ Ye brek my hairt, my bony ane." He sicweys estaiblished a lang an noble tradeetion that some creetics o James Kelman or Irvine Welsh appears no tae ken. The pouerfu wird that Dunbar pit intae prent in 1508 wisna made lawfu till 1960.

"Back tae Dunbar"[eedit | eedit soorce]

For the Scots Renaissance in the mid-20t century, William Dunbar wis a touchstane. Mony fowk tried tae copy his style, an "hie brou" subject maiter, sic as Hugh MacDiarmid an Sydney Goodsir Smith. As MacDiarmid himsel said, thay haed tae gang, "back tae Dunbar".

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