Dunbar's genius has been recognised not only by critics but by modern poets such as Auden and Eliot. This critical study examines Dunbar's view of himself as a poet, or `makar', and the way he handles various poetic genres. New emphasis is placed on the petitions, or begging-poems, and theiruse for poetic introspection. There is also a particularly full study of Dunbar's under-valued comic poems, and of the modes most congenial to him - notably parody, irony, `flyting', or invective, and black dream-fantasy. Priscilla Bawcutt takes account of recent scholarship on Dunbar and also theliterary traditions available to him, both in Latin and the vernaculars, including `popular' and alliterative poetry as well as that of Chaucer and his followers. In contesting the over-simple and reductive views purveyed by some critics that Dunbar is primarily a moralist, or no more than a skilledvirtuoso, she has written a well-informed, critically searching, and balanced account of the poetry.