A speech written by Bob Dylan was read by the United States Ambassador to Sweden, Azita Raji, at the Nobel Prize ceremony on Saturday night, after the singer was unable to attend.

Dylan, who was being honoured with the Nobel Prize for literature, missed the ceremony due to “pre-existing commitments”, but provided a lengthly speech where he said he never imagined he would one day receive the honour.

Bob DylanBob Dylan provided a speech for the Nobel Prize ceremony

In the speech, the singer said it was “truly beyond words,” to be joining the list of Nobel prize winners, which includes Kipling, Shaw, Albert Camus, Hemingway.

“I don't know if these men and women ever thought of the Nobel honor for themselves,” he continued.

“But I suppose that anyone writing a book, or a poem, or a play anywhere in the world might harbor that secret dream deep down inside. It's probably buried so deep that they don't even know it's there.”

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Dylan then explained that when he first heard he would be receiving the prize, he thought of Shakespeare.

“When he was writing Hamlet, I’m sure he was thinking about a lot of different things: ‘Who’re the right actors for these roles? How should this be staged? Do I really want to set this in Denmark?’” Dylan said.

“His creative vision and ambitions were no doubt at the forefront of his mind, but there were also more mundane matters to consider and deal with. ‘Is the financing in place? Are there enough good seats for my patrons? Where am I going to get a human skull?’ I would bet that the farthest thing from Shakespeare’s mind was the question: ‘Is this literature?’"

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“Like Shakespeare, I too am often occupied with the pursuit of my creative endeavours and dealing with all aspects of life’s mundane matters. ‘Who are the best musicians for these songs? Am I recording in the right studio? Is this song in the right key?’

“Some things never change, even in 400 years. Not once have I ever had the time to ask myself ‘are my songs literature?’ “So, I do thank the Swedish academy, both for taking the time to consider that very question and ultimately, for providing such a wonderful answer,” the speech concluded.

During the ceremony Patti Smith performed a rendition of Dylan’s 'A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall’. However the singer ended up having to restart part of her performance after forgetting some of the song’s lyrics.