Makar is a term which is applied to the great poets of the Stewart dynasty. Their poetry was written in Old Scots (a language quite similar to Old English, with both languages developing simultaneously from similar Anglian influences).
Their place in the Scottish literary tradition is very similar to that of, for example, Chaucer or Shakespeare in the English tradition: they are seen as the founding fathers of everything that came afterwards.
Video on the court of the Stewarts and the Makars.
William Dunbar (1460 - c.1520) is perhaps the greatest of the Makars. He was the court poet for King James IV and his poems are still considered to be some of the greatest ever written in the Scots tongue.
The following poem is perhaps his greatest: the 'Lament for the Makaris'. The poem reflects Dunbar's status as one man in a long tradition of Makars, and expresses the poet's anxiety with his own mortality, hence the Latin refrain: 'Timor mortus conturbat me' (the fear of death worries me).
Reading from Lament for the Makaris by William Dunbar.
Lament for the Makaris - Verse II
Our plesance heir is all vane glory,
This fals warld is bot transitory,
The flesche is brukle, the Fend is sle;
Timor mortis conturbat me.
The stait of man dois change and vary,
Now sound, now seik, now blith, now sary,
Now dansand mery, now like to dee;
Timor mortis conturbat me
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